I am the queen of procrastination, always have been. Throughout school and into my adult life, I always waited until the last minute to get something done, telling myself that I work best under pressure. The reality was, I didn’t feel like doing the work, and so I waited until it was absolutely necessary. This behavior resulted in so much unnecessary stress.
When I started my companies, I learned the hard way that my usual style was not going to work. I hold at least four full time jobs so there is too much that needs to be completed and there are always deadlines. I recognized that I needed to develop better time management practices. Here are a few of my favorite ways to stay on task:
Create lists. Lists are my lifeline. I make a monthly list of main tasks that must be completed, then I break those down into a weekly list, and then into a daily list. Without that list, I wouldn’t achieve a fraction of what I do each day. It’s my secret weapon. I find that when I don’t have a list to follow, I am all over the place. I will start a project and then switch to something else, and then something else, never completing anything. When I have a list, I handle one task at a time, and then cross it off when finished. It keeps me focused. Sometimes I don’t even know what I have to do that day until I see the list. And, I love seeing items crossed off because I feel a sense of accomplishment.
Get the hard stuff done first. It's hard to do something that you don't want to do, but it is best to complete your most challenging assignments first. Everything after takes a shorter amount of time and seems easier. Follow Mark Twain’s advice: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Set simple, achievable goals. Part of the reason we procrastinate is because the work at hand seems too daunting. Chunk it down into manageable tasks and tackle one part at a time.
Disable notifications from e-mail, instant messaging apps, social media or even apps you use for your work. Schedule time to peruse social media or to check email and stick to it!
As Benjamin Franklin said, “You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”