Procrastination, defined as “the action of delaying or postponing something.” It is the N° 1 enemy of a productive person. It is so much easier to leave a task for tomorrow than doing it. But at the end of the day, week or month you realize that you have done nothing and tried to complete everything in just one hour. This is the way to frustration and failure.
It is hard to avoid procrastination, but it is indispensable if you want to be more productive. Here are some tips to improve your work performance and even your life.
1. Make a List of Things to Do
Records are the most straightforward and most potent productivity tool if you know how to use them. How to get the most out of the lists?
- Always organize your day the night before, take 10 or 15 minutes to do this. Sometimes lack of sleep is due to thinking about the next day. So, if you do this, you will be ready in the morning to do exactly what you need to do.
- Record specific tasks, it must be clear what needs accomplishing.
- Each task has a goal. If it is clear to you why what you are doing is essential, you will feel more motivated to tackle the project.
- Divide large tasks into smaller tasks. The bigger or complex your goal is, the more quickly it will overwhelm you and will end up procrastinating. Divide the work into small steps
- Update your list once a day to track your progress and organize the next day.
- Set deadlines for your tasks. Once, a friend told me “Nothing motivates more than a deadline.” He is right.
2. Classify and Assign Properties
When you are making your list, classify and prioritize them. There are always more critical tasks than others. If you finish a job that you have been putting off, it will take a massive weight off your metaphorical shoulders.
Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People show us how an easy way to classify our tasks: 1) Important / Urgent, 2) Important / Not Urgent, 3) Not Important / Urgent and 4) Not Important / Not Urgent.
3. Plan the Day
If planning your day is mentioned twice, it is only because it is imperative. Be realistic when setting your tasks and do not over-plan. If you do this, you will force yourself to set objectives and fulfil them.
If it’s possible, do your jobs before anything else, it is incredible how extra-productive you will feel if you finish them early and have time left to spare. And again, always review your list at the end of the day to decide your tasks for the next morning.
4. Reward Yourself
Motivation is the key to success, do not give up until you have finished your tasks.
You can give yourself small rewards after completing each task like chocolate or 15 minutes away from your computer/office, or you can take a whole day free after completing your “To Do” list, you have earned it. Remember, do not over-plan but do not underestimate yourself either.
5. Learn and Improve Daily
Some days we can feel like we are not accomplishing anything or the time is not enough to do everything we have planned. It is entirely reasonable, we all have bad days, try that this does not demotivate you and analyze what happened.
If you find the reason why you weren’t highly productive that day, you will stop wasting your time at work for future opportunities.
1. Eliminate Distractions While You Work
Today, with all the technology, we are increasingly surrounded by distractions that make it more difficult to focus. The endless emails, notifications of the mobile phone, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram deviates us from our tasks. If we let ourselves go, it is incredible the amount of time we waste.
How can you focus?
- Use applications like Forest or Pomodoro to avoid using your phone while working, disconnect phone notifications, keep it away if needed or if you are strong enough, turn it off.
- Establish a few minutes to check your e-mail, don’t check it every five minutes.
- Control the time you spend on social networks or other leisure sites. You can install an extension for your browser like StayFocus that limits your time on these websites and prevents you from visiting them during certain times of the day.
- Leave these type of activities like rest and reward of good progress in an important task.
- Do not disturb! If you work at an office, hang on the door a “do not disturb” sign, this way people will know that you are doing an important task and you are not available.
2. Do One Thing at a Time
Each time you alternate from one task to another, you lose time and concentration, and you end up leaving them all half-hearted.
Choose a task from your list, focus on it and don’t give up until you finish it. This way you will get through the day being productive.
3. Keep Your Home and Your Work Area Clean and Organized
Believe it or not, a messy area is a potential source of distractions, even if you don’t like to clean. Besides, try to keep your work environment minimalist.
The only things you need are your computer, a notebook, a pencil, and water. Whit these things on hand, you avoid distractions.
4. Analyze Your Most Productive Hours
We all have productive peaks, find at what time is yours. Some work better in the morning and others in the afternoon so set your most important tasks at those hours.
Avoid working late at night, this is not good for your performance at work, and it will bring terrible consequences for your health.
Take Care of Yourself
It may sound obvious, but sometimes we focus so much on the work that we forget about our health. If you don’t feel right, your performance won’t be good.
1. Sleep Enough
Try to sleep at least 8 hours; this is the minimum that an adult person needs for a full recovery and complete the nocturnal regenerative functions. You will rejuvenate by the next day after a good rest.
2. Do Not Work Late at Night
Some people prefer working at night because of the belief that there are fewer distractions late at night.
This is true, and it may work for a few days, but it is impossible to keep this pace. If you don’t sleep enough, you will feel tired ALWAYS.
3. Get up Early and Take Advantage of the Day
In my personal opinion, this is the hardest thing to do to stop wasting your time at work, but when you make it a habit, it changes your life. What you do during the first hour of the day can determine your attitude for the rest of the day. Here a few steps to start your day with the right foot:
- Get up early
- Have a good breakfast
- Do some exercise
- Get organized calmly
If you have time, you can even do some task on your list before starting the day itself.
4. Get Some Exercise
Find a routine that works for you and work on that routine every morning.
The benefits of starting your day with activity are numerous, your brain release endorphins while exercising so you will feel happy and full of energy. Besides, it is an excellent way to get rid of stress.
5. Eat Healthy Foods
We are what we eat. You have no idea how important is a balanced diet for your performance at work and your health. Process food or high-sugar content food makes you sleepy and have a negative impact on your health. To maintain the concentration and energy throughout the day eat fresh food and lots of fruits.
Another advice is to start your day with a green smoothie; it is good for your body and your mind. You can try this one: eight ounces of water, two handfuls of spinach, an apple, two stalks of celery, and lemon juice. It will detox your body and provide the nutrients you need to boost your energy levels so that you can stop wasting your time at work.
6. Take Small Breaks
If you don’t take regular breaks you will end up getting the opposite effect of what you want; you will do less. Take 15 or 20 minutes to stretch, breathe, relax, or eat something after 2 hours of work. It will clear your mind.
Just Keep it Simple!
Productivity does not mean doing a lot of things; it means doing right all the stuff you need to do.
Remember that each task will get you closer to your goal. So, stop wasting time at work.
Finally, to become a productive person, you must first decide to do it. Making the decision is only half of the way.
Organize your day, focus on your activities, reward your effort, and become a better and more productive version of yourself.