I procrastinate. In fact, I procrastinate so badly that this post has actually been on my to-do list for about seven weeks and the title was only ever as far as I got with it. Ah irony eh, don’t you just love it? Procrastination is one of my biggest short comings and one of the things that I get most frustrated with myself for. Being self employed I rely totally on my work ethic and ability to motivate myself and although I do adore working and love love love what I do, I very often let myself down, losing entire days to procrastination.
I often find myself wondering how much more successful I would be if I were able to just sit down and get stuff done, and then I realise that that entire thought process is procrastination in itself and I find myself in a world of stress.
I have a list of over fifty blog posts that I would like to write, I have about 100 photos that I need to get outside and take and edit. I currently have 181 emails sitting in my inbox, my laundry basket is so full that I’m onto the granny pants and actually, I cannot believe that I am admitting to all of this. It’s shameful and I am truly embarrassed and disappointed. However, I know that I am not the only one to suffer with this affliction and so I would like to talk about procrastination and the steps that I am taking to beat it.
You may have heard some of these before, this is a list of various things that I have been picking up for a while, from reading articles and listening to podcasts (while procrastinating probably) and this is what seems to work for me… sometimes.
Make your bed.
Not every time you get writer’s block or don’t know what to reply to an email, obviously, otherwise you will have days when you’ll have nothing to show for them other than a really well made bed, but just do it when you get up in the morning. The theory behind this is that it’s very important to ‘achieve’ something so early on in the day and to get something done before you’ve even left your bedroom at least puts you on the right path.
Have a little boogie.
Meredith Grey taught us this; the importance of a good dance. Whether it’s first thing in the morning to get you up and pumped up for the day or in-between a particularly frustrating work load, stop what you are doing, turn the music up and dance it out. It will make you smile and that will help you in so many ways.
Write a to-do list.
I normally fucking hate a to-do list as I end up putting too much on it, getting overwhelmed, not doing anything and then carrying them on and on for days and days until they eventually go away (or arrive through the post covered in big scary red letters). Make it realistic and leave it on your desk, not allowing yourself to leave until they are all crossed off.
Be sure to actually cross them off though, none of this tick nonsense, there is nothing more satisfying than putting a definitive line through something when it is finished.
If you can do it in under two minutes…
Then just do it. There are so many tasks that I just put off and off for literally no reason at all. Putting my plate in the dishwasher, taking the bin out, making my bed, these are tiny tasks that I don’t need to be putting off. By the time I’ve thought about them long enough to decide that I’m not going to do them they could already be done. Do it, then put it on the list and cross it off straight away, it feels great.
One thing at a time.
I’m going to reply to all my emails and then I can go get a snack. I’m going to put all of my clothes away and then I will watch TV. I am going to write this article and then I can read that blog post. Don’t juggle everything or interrupt one task to start another, before you know it it’s the end of the day and nothing is done, both tasks having been left abandoned. One thing at a time.
Allocate break times.
I’m lucky, since I have Bua and LOVE walking anyway my break times are necessary and lovely. If I know I HAVE to take Bua out at lunch time (which I do because there is only so long that she can keep her little legs crossed for) then I cannot waste all morning watching vines and even if I do, the cloud of shame that comes with me when I leave the house for the walk is not even worth it. Plug your headphones in and get some fresh air, before long you will start to see the break as the reward and you can come back to your task after 45 minutes with a heightened sense of productivity guaranteed.
Shut down the distractions.
For me basically all my distractions live on my iPad and once I get sucked in I can rarely pull myself out. Whether that’s playing an episode of Modern Family whilst I write, a mid-morning game of Candy Crush or a binge reading of someone’s entire blog archive, the only way to stop myself from falling down this rabbit hole is to remove the distraction from arms-reach (since I really am a child). I get Spotify up and leave it playing music on the other side of the room.
This works better for the self employed amongst you but I NEED this. If I know I have a big blog post to write and I’m struggling to concentrate at home I will take my laptop and my dog to a coffee shop. It’s hard to pass scrolling through Asos off as work when there is a cafe full of people behind you, equally I don’t let myself leave there until I have finished what I went there to achieve and that really helps.
Have a work-less lunch.
Eating your lunch whilst reading your emails or trying to complete as task is ridiculous and a huge waste of your well earned time off, not least because there is only so much work you can do when you threaten spilling your mayonnaise all over your keyboard. Take your lunch break as a break and do something else. I make my food, take it somewhere different to eat it and watch a vlog or read a blog post, chat with someone on the phone or read a magazine before washing up my plate and then coming to work feeling refreshed and smug.
It’s never too late in the day.
Sometimes the clock will hit 2pm before I realise that I’ve basically done nothing productive with my day. Instinct kicks in here and tells me that there is no point trying to do anything for the rest of the day since the morning was such a shambles. This is absolute bollocks, it’s never too late to start anything. Just because five hours have been wasted, that doesn’t mean that the next five will be.
There are so many women who inspire me and I often find myself thinking: did they get to where they are today by watching five episodes of Grey’s Anatomy during a working day? The answer is always no, so then I ask myself: why would it be any different for me? It won’t. This is not the key to success. They spend their days working hard, so must I.
Don’t start doing something in front of the telly, not if it’s on the to-do list. If it’s important then you need to either put it on tomorrow’s list or take yourself quiet somewhere to do it immediately. The minute you start combining work and play, procrastination reaches new heights. If this task requires your full attention then give it what it deserves. A work space and a home place with as few blurred lines as possible and taking a break from work are two of the most important factors in productivity… I think.
Before I go to bed I force myself to think of a task that I want to get done the next day, that way when I wake up in the morning I am ready and raring to go. Much like with the switching off rule I make myself wait tot do whatever it is properly, all in one go, so as to avoid starting something on a whim and then drifting away from it and never getting it done. Which used to happen a lot.
Ask yourself: ‘why am I do this?’ every time you mind wonders.
Why am I here? What do I want to achieve? How can I be the best? NOT BY WATCHING ANOTHER VIDEO OF A BABY GOAT ON A TRAMPOLINE EM. Successful people get shit done. They grind. And they definitely don’t spend hours looking at baby goats like I do. They achieve and they do that because they are working hard. All good things are worth working for and I want the good things, I want to be successful and I want to get it right: I have to give it my all and I have to remind myself of that a lot.
Ah guys look I’m going to be honest, whilst wiring this I did get a little distracted, I started it at 9am and took a break to take Bua for a walk, ate my breakfast, had a shower, read AND REPLIED TO all 181 emails, had a cup of coffee and spoke to my mum on the phone, so it’s not perfect. But I started it this morning and I got it up before close of play. That’s not bad. At least I’m trying.
Procrastination is human nature, so don’t beat yourself up too badly. Having said that, try cutting back on it, I notice how much happier I am when the day ends and I can see, clearly laid out in front of me, all that I have achieved in a day. Sure no one else need know that you procrastinated so badly for four days that you basically got nothing done, but you will and it’s horrible having to admit this to yourself. Ultimately you need to remember why you’re doing it and cling onto that for dear life.
Good luck! Also, if I forgot any tips, which I probably (definitely) did, please let me know in the comment section as I clearly need all the help that I can get!