June 16, 2020
Progress on any tasks will have to jump the hurdles of procrastination.
Here are some procrastination busters sure to help you get more done working from home and actually get things done more efficiently.
There is a poem written in 1742 by Edward Young entitled Night-Thoughts on Life:
Be wise to-day; ’tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push’d out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
Did you catch that line?
“Procrastination is the thief of time, Year after yearit steals...”
If we don’t get serious about solutions to procrastination we are literally allowing it to steal our opportunities away from us. How long is that okay with you?
We all set goals, or what ever you want to call what you plan to do with your day. If you are like most you really plan to get all of these things done. Furthermore you probably have some major things on your tasks list that REALLY need to get done.
I am going to give you my best tips for the scenarios that happen to most of us when we are trying to push through our workday.
I will start from the bottom. I want to “cut to the chase”. Let’s talk about the biggest killer of our momentum and what prevents us from getting things done.
#1. Breaking down The Wall
What do you do when you hit the wall? The wall is where you know you start to do something but all of a sudden you lack the energy your motivation to finish. You know how this goes. You start a project and you are really feeling good. As you progress you are using up a lot of brain energy and start to slow down. Then you hit the wall. Often this happens when you are a significant ways down the road to being finished.
So how do we find the energy and brain power to push past the wall. Thomas Smale wrote and article in Entrepreneur Magazine talking about how important it is to have adequate ‘brain energy’ to work effectively. Thomas states, “It would allow you to get more done in a shorter amount of time, and come up with unique solutions to problems that you might not be able to otherwise.”
Get up and take a planned 30-minute to an hour break.
It is the one thing most people don’t do. We usually try to push through but this is when our work can become sloppy or we burn out and give up.
If you burn out then what tends to happen is coming back to the task turns from being a wall to a mound of reasons to procrastinate.
“I will just get to that later” “let me work on something else for a while” or even worse “I am almost done with that project so let me start something else”
We all know the last one usually means that what could have been done ends up sitting in the unfinished pile for days, weeks, months and sometimes forever.
I know I am not the only one that has hit the wall on a project only to set it to the side and a week later see that I never even went back to finish.
So we have to have a plan to get past the wall.
According to researcher Piers Steel 95% of us procrastinate to some degree.
So if you have already overcome the hurdle of starting a project trust and know that you still have the challenge of procrastination at some point during the project.
Also beware that “The Wall”may come from fear of finishing the wrong way. What I mean is that fear of what you finish is not good enough. So you start to keep trying to improve or make that final touch. Sometimes you have to say, “I have done my best so let me be done and move on.”
#2. Tired labeled as laziness.
Now this is just what it means. Sometimes we can simply be tired but we think we are being lazy. Don’t beat yourself up.
Let me break it down like this. In my old car I would know when it was time to take it to the shop because something would break down. Usually breakdowns happen when you are doing something. But if you are lucky your car simply wont start in the drive way so at least you are home when your car fails.
Now in my new cars the car will make an appointment for itself when it knows the time has come to upgrade or check some part of the car before it breaks down. These cars don’t often break down because they know what it feels like before they get to “tired” to keep going.
I wish we were more like cars in this sense. We can be!
You have to know ahead of time when you are getting tired so that your recharge earlier. It is much easier to jump-start a battery in a car when the battery has a little juice left.
Just like it is much easier to get back on track with your tasks if you recharge before you completely burnout.
Harvard Business Review recently put out and article called, 3 Tips to Avoid WFH Burnout by LauraM. Giurge and Vanessa K. Bohns. In the article these ladies eloquently say, “The lines between work and non-work are blurring in new and unusual ways, and many employees who are working remotely for the first time are likely to struggle to preserve healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives.”
So we now have to learn to identify new signs our body is telling us when we are feeling burn out.
It may come in the form of us thinking we are being lazy. Then we run the risk of pushing ourselves to hard to the point of breaking.
So sometimes being lazy it not realizing you are just tired. One option is to just give in, especially those of us that work from home. Sometimes you have to realize that you are worn down and give yourself permission to just break off the day and escape.
Just the other day I was working non-stop from home. About 6hours went by, with a few breaks of course, and then I started slowing down.Then I did not want to work at all. I thought I was getting lazy. No my brain was getting fried.
So I just decided to stop feeling like I was lazy and realizing I needed a nap. No guilt I just walked away from my computer and went to the couch. At first I thought I was losing valuable time.
After a nap I was up and recharged. I actually finished the task even faster and had some great ideas pop into my head while I was sleep.
So by simply listening to my body, like my car setting its own appointment, I became more productive even after losing an hour of my workday.
#3. Getting on track after Lack of Focus.
In an article called, ‘lack of focus in a digital world’. The author talks about how we tend to check our phones every 12 minutes.
So why are we not protecting our focus more? It is because we have become so used to responding to the chime or vibration of our phone. Every time our phones or computers ring,shake or sing, we feel that shot of adrenaline. We want to know who it is and what they want. Even if we ignore a call there is often that nagging thought of what call did we just miss.
So we have to find ways to avoid the phone and email chatter.
One way is to simply put your phone on silent during a critical part of your workday. The world will survive if a person cannot reach you for 45 minutes while you focus on something important.
You can even have a setting where you only get alerts from certain people.
Better yet if you are working from home, like me, the important people are already home so if there is an emergency I will hear the scream.
#4. Lack of time & getting your control back.
This is the one that creeps up on all of us. We simply don’t plan our time or things do not go as planned.
When we don’t plan our time usually it is because we under estimate the amount of time needed to finish a project. So once the project runs too long we have to start thinking do we abort this project and move on or do we keep going and risk not finishing other things?
The better option is to always recalibrate. As we plan our day challenges appear in our workflow. This is when we must take a moment and look at what needs to get done and prioritize.
The website Mindtools.com put it this way, “If you don't estimate goal completion time accurately, it can be discouraging when things take longer to achieve than you think they should.This can cause you to give up.”
It is okay to realize that something is going to take more time. If you know that you need more time on a project then start you new day with that in mind.
Don’t hold yourself to the deadlines you set initially if they are not going to work. When you do that you are now making the clock and abusive partner in your workday. We can never get more time. Don’t try it. There are only 24 hours in day and only so many hours we are awake to work.
So no matter what you have todo make sure you still put in your breaks and stress release time. Trying to play beat the clock all the time often ends up with us just beating up ourselves.
#5 YOU NEED TO STOP
When I say stop I mean you may need to completely stop everything related to work or a project.
You may be afraid to take a break because you don’t want the world to know they can live without you. I am serious, this is a real fear for some people. TheMuse.com had a great quote, “People are afraid of being replaced or they’re afraid of their work piling up while they’re gone”.
Your sanity is too important to let that fear get to you.
You may need to walk away fora day, days or even a week.
Now this is not procrastination. This is an extreme makeover version of your sanity.
This has happened to me on a few occasions. It happened when I was writing my first book on success through finishing your goals call 'Running With Finishers'
There I was almost done with the book and I went through all of the things 1-4 listed in the article. I was so frustrated because none of my techniques to move past procrastination where working.
So I did something scary. I just stopped. I really just booked a flight and went away for 2 days. I did not check email. I did not take business calls. I did not think about the book or any work. I went to my happy place, a hot locations with a swim up bar. I sat by the pool all day, ordered my food and drink and listened to the breeze.
When I came home I was beyond recharged. I was ready to leap the wall and any other obstacle. Not only did I finish the book but also I was able to finish other projects I had started and never finished.
I was empowered because I unplugged to fully get my power back.
This is what you have to not be afraid to do. Be willing to let the world survive without you. I mean really let the world fend for itself.
If you are completely taking a break then leave the phone on silent. Don’t lie by the pool or be in your happy place checking email. Don’t talk about work or related issues. Just be somewhere and just enjoy whom you are with.
All right so we have some work to do. Now let’s go do it and remember to use these tools for maximum efficiency.
Author of ‘RunningWith Finishers’