You've probably read this article about how to hack procrastination instead of working on a truly valued task which needs to be accomplished. Am I right? And you can’t really explain why you keep getting distracted by minor things that do not require your attention at the moment. This is what I call procrastination.
Thankfully, procrastination is not a mental disorder. It’s just a habit of putting off outstanding tasks until the last moment. If you have a good mind to break off the habit, then you should remember the following two rules you need to follow.
The first rule is to realize that procrastination is a bad habit that can impede effective work and make you counterproductive. You need to take a deeper look at the cause of your procrastination and take steps to eliminate it.
The second rule is your strong desire to overcome procrastination once and for all. Otherwise, you will fail to fight with a temptation to do as little as you want, or perhaps even less.
Here is a list of hacks you can use to improve your ability to accomplish tasks.
1. Experiment with "(10+2)*5"
Merlin Man, the author of 43Folders.com has come up with a nice idea called (10+2)*5. This is a simple math expression meaning that you work for 10 minutes, then rest for 2 minutes repeating this order of actions 5 times to complete an hour. Be sure to stick to this schedule and observe time intervals. The idea is to jam pack every hour of your work routine. Over time, you will get used to this schedule and even skip most of the breaks.
2. Put some color in your workplace
Clean up your desk, get rid of stuff that only distracts you. Use red and blue items in your working space. The Science Daily study discovered that red color increases your attention to details, while blue improves creativity. These two colors not only improve brain performance but also delight the eye.
3. Plan your break time
Write down the things you want to do during your break. This may be getting outside for some fresh air, having a lunch, or calling a friend. Devote 20 minutes or so for each of the planned activities and squeeze them in between your work time. Eventually, you will plan your small breaks more rationally and work with greater enthusiasm knowing that 20 minutes of joy come soon.
4. Make a time-schedule for your tasks
One way to break a procrastination habit is to replace it with another habit. For example, you can start planning your tasks step by step. When you begin a task, write down a time schedule including all its stages. For example, you are assigned to write an article. An example time plan can be as follows:
10:00 – 10:10 – Setting up working space for writing an article: get a notebook, make coffee, etc.;
10:10 – 11:00 – Online research for article-related information;
11:00 – 11:20 – Making a plan of the article;
11:20 – 12:00 – Write thesis statements;
12:00 – 12:30 – Find supporting evidence;
12:30 – 16:00 – Write the article draft text.
Deadlines make you more organized. Once you create such a schedule with time limits, you will find yourself doing your best to meet the deadline.
5. Work outside your home
The warm and cozy atmosphere of your home won’t let you concentrate on a difficult project. With all the magnetism of a couch, mid-day naps, Play Station games, you will never accomplish it anyway. Instead, try to find a more suitable place for work, such as a coffeehouse or library.
6. Transform your laziness into creativity
It is a well-known fact that laziness is the engine of progress. Scientists say procrastination can make you more creative, thus, more productive. So, instead of putting off impending tasks, try to find new ways and lifehacks to finish them quicker. Speed up your typing by coloring keys on your keyboard or learn how to use macros wherever possible. An aspiration of doing work efficiently in combination with your laziness can awake creative side you never knew you have.
7. Assign a "Task Penalty"
Find a person who has the willpower to rebuke you each time you procrastinate.This may be your supervisor or colleague, or a friend. You could even go further and pay a penalty for not meeting a deadline or time spent on surfing your Facebook page or watching YouTube videos. I bet every five bucks penalty will bring your procrastination to naught.
8. Put gadgets in a drawer
A study by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers found the average user checks their phone as often as 150 times per day. Having your phone within your line of sight increases the urge to unlock the phone and check arriving notifications or simply scroll through the photos on Instagram. Removing mobile devices and other gadgets eliminates the source of constant distraction and allows you to concentrate on work.
9. Prepare your next day in the evening
Don’t go to sleep until you've prepared everything you need for the next day. Make a plan of to-do tasks that need to be accomplished tomorrow, prepare a lunch and pack it into a container, pack up your yoga clothes, etc. This will take you 15-20 minutes and save you a good deal of time in the morning.
10. Do small workouts every day
Physical exercises not only improve your health and increase the level of “happy hormones”, but also supercharge your productivity. Do the exercises you enjoy, be it jogging or playing basketball. In fact, you don’t even need to visit a gym or a play field, just do a 10-minute workout right in your bedroom. Exercises will give you the energy boost and improve your job performance.
11. Take one step at a time
Before you start working on a big project, split it into small portions and get the smallest or easiest done first. For example, if you have an article to write, you can start with making up a title and writing the introductory part of the article. Or maybe you need to prepare a multimedia presentation. Think of the media elements you want to include in your presentation and depending on them, choose the technology you will use to create the demo.
12. Surround yourself with motivation phrases
Here are mini desk chalkboards I found on Etsy to write motivating quotes like those from Pinterest. Or don’t bother, simply write “Get this done right here, right now!” on a color sticky note and attach it in a corner of your screen or some place you look often at.
13. Change decorations
New decoration of my room keeps me motivated to be in the saddle for some time until I get used to it. Eventually, it became my habit to redecorate my room once a month or so. There is a great number of posts on the Internet that tell you how to redesign your room without spending much time and effort.
14. Prepare snacks well in advance
Every time you want a little something, you need to get up and go to the pantry or fridge. This may take you just a few minutes, but you might be distracted by a long chat with someone. So, toss some snacks in your drawer and put a cup of coffee on your desk before starting a new task.
15. Productivity hack for home chores
Make up a weekly schedule of chores that need to be done at your home. Specify the task by day and specific time. Use your creativity when crafting a chore chart to make it more attractive, or simply print out the list and stick it at a most visited place at home, such as a fridge.
A bonus lifehack
You cannot actually measure how much time you waste without tracking it. There are many different online time trackers that show you the time you spend watching cat videos on YouTube. But if you want a really great time-management app that gives you an accurate picture of your working day, then TMetric is the right choice for you. It has everything you need to make you spend time more effectively and increase your productivity. Check it out for yourself!