Well, it’s 6 0′ clock on Sunday and I am finally sitting down to write my blog. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’ve been procrastinating all day, more Spring cleaning peppered with a bit of procrastination along the way. So, as a result of this I literally have half an hr to write this blog, nothing like a deadline to get things done!
How often do we use the words time, and procrastination, but what do those words actually mean?
There are lots of definitions of time, but one I particularly relate to is, ‘periods or a period necessary or available for a given activity’. This, to me covers all aspects of time as every day we fill our time with activities that are necessary (eating, sleeping and of course working, to name but a few). Time is also available for the none necessary things that you want to do (including work of course?!).
Now, procrastination is often called the thief of time and it has been defined as, ‘to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness’. I think this is a bit harsh (or maybe I’m in denial?), and another definition I prefer is, ‘to postpone or delay needlessly’.
Procrastination can attack at any point in time, when you’re at work and you know you have a report to write or another task to do and you either don’t know where to start with it or you just don’t want to do it. It can also occur at home when you’ve got housework to do or you are studying for something, it creeps up, pins you down so you can’t move and you’ve no choice but to keep reading your paper, book, watching TV, playing on the play station, or playing with your smart phone!
So, how can we fight back once and for all? We’ve all been on time management courses and thought, that sounds like a good idea at the time and not done anything with them, or is that just me?!
I’ve read a couple of good books on time, the first one is, Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy www.amazon.co.uk/Eat-That-Frog-Important-Things/dp/0340835044/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1365363100&sr=8-2&keywords=eat+that+frog
The second is, Save an Hour a Day by Michael Heppell (a fellow Northeasterner but I’m not biased)! www.amazon.co.uk/How-Save-Hour-Every-Day/dp/0273745697/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365363240&sr=1-6&keywords=michael+heppell
Again with both of these links, other booksellers are available (Abe do great second hand books for example).
There is another book that has been on my shelf for years, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People which I’m sure is an excellent book but it’s so big, I just can’t bring myself to read it. What I liked about these books is that they’re easy to read and full of good, practical information.
Taking some of the info from the books and also from my head I started to think about a concept of Timefulness. I’m not sure if this exists but it’s based on the combination of being mindful (which I wrote about in a previous blog), and thinking about how you want to spend your time. I deliberately haven’t used the word need, as I believe that the concept of needing to do something is part of the procrastination battle, need and should are about external influences, it’s about being in control and being at the stage where you want to do something.
So, here’s my suggested plan of attack:-
1. Be mindful. I’ve started using the Headspace app (based on the book by Andy Puddicombe), taking 10 mins a day to practice the art of meditation. I appreciate this isn’t for everyone but it’s something that I’ve procrastinated on for ages, time to take action!
2. Make shoulds and needs into wants. What’s on the massive to-do list and how do I change my mindset to make the tasks into wants? What happens if I don’t do them? I think we get clogged up by all of the stuff we have to do and we procrastinate on it and think about the outside influences telling us to do things which sometimes makes us procrastinate even more. Lets take back control and want to do it.
3. Prioritise. I like Michael Heppell’s idea of sitting down at the end of the day and writing down the ‘five most important things to do tomorrow’ and DO THEM! This can be combined with Brian Tracy’s EAT THAT FROG concept. Your “frog” is the biggest, most important task, to use Brian’s words, “the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it now. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment”.
4. Put the pressure on. I have found that us worker bees work well under pressure when we have deadlines. Pressure can often cause stress but, when we are focussed on a particular task we can get in the zone and get it done. Brian Tracy talks about developing a sense of urgency, an “inner drive” which is a desire to “get on with a job quickly and get it done fast”. A simple way of doing this as suggested in the book is to adopt the mantra, “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!” over and over again.
5. Stop being a slave to the e mail and avoid hijack. E mails can be like time hijackers that land in the in-box, pin us down and make us do things that weren’t on the list and can lose us a few hours if we’re not careful. Cutting down on the number of times we check e mails and being mindful of priorities will hopefully help to keep those ninja warrior hijackers at bay (until they reach for the telephone instead!).
I think that will do for now (don’t want the dreaded Overwhelm to creep in!)
By the way, I would love to say I wrote this in half an hr but alas I did not BUT, I overcame procrastination and got it done!
Have a great frog eating week (and step away from the smart phone!)Grenouille et smartphone