What are you procrastinating over right now?! Come on, admit it, you’re putting something off and reading this post instead aren’t you?!
I am in NO WAY perfect at this, in fact I’ve put off writing this post for longer than I’d care to admit. Oh the sweet irony. There is of course nothing wrong with a little escape from time to time, but if you procrastinate too much and you’re really not getting the important things done, you’ll end up in a constant negative spiral of putting things off. Not achieving the things that you know you have to is a sure-fire route to I-suck-at-life-ville. And no one wants to live there. So what can you do to stop the dreaded procrastin-monster and actually get things done already?!
1. Have a schedule… and stick to it!
You need to have a proper schedule in place for anything that needs regular attention – I’m talking emails, editing, blogging, creating invoices… all those tasks that you really don’t like doing but you know you have to. Not having a schedule is probably the biggest cause of procrastination because without one it’s all too easy to keep putting things off. Make sure you set aside a certain time each day/week/month to do each task. Remember no-one is going to do these things for you or make sure you stick to your plan, so first and foremost you need to be accountable for yourself.
I also recently read that it takes three months for a new habit to form, so be sure to stick at it. Eventually keeping on top of these things will become second nature.
2. Eat the frog
Gala wrote a great blog post about the ‘eat the frog’ concept, which states that the key to getting things done is to start with the hardest, worst or least enjoyable jobs first. Basically you need to eat that biggest, ugliest frog before anything else.
“In fact, one of the basic tenets of the book is that you will NEVER GET EVERYTHING DONE”, Gala writes. “Isn’t that kind of a relief to hear?! Brian Tracy’s thinking is that since you’ll never get it all done, you simply need to prioritise what is really important…”
So instead of fannying about and spending a whole day working though the little, easy or more enjoyable tasks, start your day with the worst job first. You’ll feel a real sense of achievement when it’s done and much better equipt to get through the rest of your ‘to do’ list.
3. Break things into bite-sized chunks
There is nothing worse than looking at a huge stretch of seemingly never-ending work. It’s all too overwhelming. Smaller tasks are much easier to complete so you’re less likely to put them off. So instead of looking at the bigger picture, break each task into smaller, more manageable chunks and work your way through methodically. If, after breaking things down, you’re still putting them off then break them down even further until you’re completing micro tasks without even thinking about it.
For example, at The Blogcademy we give each of our graduates a personalised report card with critique and suggestions for their own blogs. In London we’re doing two workshops of 30 students each… that’s 60 report cards we’ve got to write! If I was to think about having to do all of those in one sitting I might have a panic attack, so instead I’ve tasked myself with doing three per day for the next month and between myself and the other headmistresses we’ll be done in no time!
4. Set deadlines
It’s all very well breaking things into small chucks to work through, but you must set yourself a deadline for each small task and a deadline for the overall project. If you have just one long deadline for something it’s easy to procrastinate because you perceive that you have all the time in the world.
For example I start working on my monthly column for Photo Professi