Let’s face it, there’s a lot of stuff we just don’t want to do. My list includes anything to do with car maintenance, housekeeping, yard work—come to think of it, my list is pretty extensive. And yet, these things have to get done. We gravitate to activities we enjoy doing and procrastinate on the other stuff. Sound familiar? Here’s my top five anti-procrastination tricks:
- Write it down. Research shows we are more responsive to items when we write them down. I use the task bar in my google calendar for my running to do list. This works well for me as I permanently keep my google calendar up on my second computer screen*. Bottom line, your “to do” list of items you don’t want “to do” needs to visible and easily accessible. No point in writing them in a notebook you hardly refer to or store them digitally in an app you rarely open.
- Schedule it on your calendar. If your to do list is as long as a CVS receipt, it’s time to schedule appointments with yourself to tackle those dreaded projects. True, you can cancel on yourself without penalty, but I’ve found that scheduling appointments with yourself creates an effective element of self-accountability.
- Divide the task into bite-size pieces. If the project(s) is particularly loathsome, break it down into smaller tasks or set a timer. You can do anything for 30 minutes and those 30 minutes add up. A 30-minute task done for five days equals two and a half hours!
- Reward Yourself! My particular favorite. If the first three are just not doing it for you, try the reward system. You get to pick the reward, but it should be in line with the accomplishment. Treating yourself to a Caribbean vacation for getting your bills paid on time seems a bit excessive but maybe that’s just me. Taking a 30-minute break for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit might be enough incentive, or perhaps catching up on a favorite show. The treat system works just as well on humans as it does on dogs!
- Phone a friend. When all else fails, it may be time to bring in outside accountability. This person should be able to, well, let’s just say “strongly encourage” you to get things done but they should not be allowed to make you feel completely incompetent. A good professional organizer can also provide the accountability needed and create a system tailored to your specific needs.
Wishing you the most productive year!
*If you work at a desk, I highly recommend using a second monitor screen. This has significantly increased my productivity.