In a minute!
I’ll do that later.
Well, can it wait?
We’ve all heard the laments of the habitual procrastinator and are familiar with their cries for delay. Some of us might even be a little too familiar with those phrases coming out of our own mouths. So how do you combat the urge to push that little task to tomorrow when you know it should have really been tackled yesterday? The first step would be to finish reading this now, instead of later.
One of the first techniques is a simple rule to keep you on track during a busy day. If the task you don’t want to complete takes less than two minutes to do, just dive in and get it out of the way. Whether it is that quick email response or returning a call, if it takes less than the amount of time it takes to get that cup of coffee from the break room, knock it out as soon as possible. I even test myself to answer quick emails while holding my breath, doing so sounds silly but also makes me realize I could have accomplished that task underwater if need be. Makes the small things seem that much more achievable. Continually doing this will make most of the small tedious parts of your day evaporate, letting you focus on procrastinating the bigger things.
No! Just kidding! You won’t have to procrastinate those bigger things either with this next tip. I call it the 25 – 5 method. Head back to the break room and grab that kitchen timer, or use your fancy distraction-inducing, procrastination generating smartphone as a way to track your time with this trick. First set that phone to silent or do not disturb mode, essentially you want to remove all temptation to check social media or texts – it’s ok – Facebook will still be there when you get back.
Set the timer for 25 minutes and then get to work. Focus exclusively on the task at hand without moving your attention to anything not associated with that goal until that timer dings. Then get up, and do something else entirely. Check your phone, watch a YouTube video, or stretch… whatever it is, just be sure to enjoy the next five minutes. Treat those 300 seconds for what they are – a well earned reward for nearly half an hour of focused work. Then repeat again until the task is complete. The work-then-break cycle will help you stay focused and still enjoy (briefly) not working on the task at hand.
Finally, another way I like to tackle the dreadful parts of my day is to knock out the worst first. Not looking forward to writing that long technical email? Are you going to worry all day about writing that next chapter? Or compiling the data for the sales report? Then the second you get in, get to work on this task and put it first. Taking the anxiety about the upcoming task you just don’t want to do is easy, if you take it off your plate before the clock strikes nine. The accomplishment from slaying this corporate dragon of a burden will endow you with much relief and confidence. Trust me, doing so ensures that by the time you break for lunch, you’ll be in command of your day, and ready to push procrastination off until tomorrow.
Alexander Petit is the Affiliates Relations Manager at Dealstruck and just entered his career in finance last year. He previously served in the Navy where he was stationed in Japan for nearly half a decade. He now resides in San Diego and when he isn’t writing does stand up comedy in his spare time.