Congratulations! It’s the last week of January 2016, and we’re positive you haven’t broken any of those New Year’s Resolutions yet. But just in case you’re starting to feel the creep of procrastination throughout the work day, try out these three tips to get yourself back on track.
1. Plan your day the night before.
We’ve all been there. You’re rushing into the office after dealing with traffic and you open your email and you’ve got 15 new messages to respond to, and already your boss is asking you for something. Before you know it, it’s noon and you haven’t started on what you meant to accomplish today.
Taking 10 minutes at the end of your day to write out your tasks and goals for the following day, perhaps even going so far as to schedule when you’ll work on each, can save you a lot of sanity. Give yourself leeway to respond to urgent matters as they come up, but stick to your task list as much as possible. Writing your list of to-do items down while it’s still in your head will make you much less likely to forget tasks and miss deadlines.
2. Tackle difficult tasks early.
A friend has a quote pinned to his desk: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” It’s his daily reminder that all of the things he doesn’t want to do—or may be afraid to do—will end up being the most rewarding. Get these things out of the way early and see how the rest of your day changes when you’re not dreading them anymore.
Schedule these things early in the day—once you’ve had your coffee—and eliminate distractions while you’re doing them. Send your phone to voicemail, close the Facebook tab, and focus all of your energy on getting whatever it is done. Reward yourself with a little break, a fresh cup of coffee, and a walk once you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.
3. Set realistic expectations.
It can be easy when you’re creating your task list to just do a “brain dump” and write down everything you can think of that needs to be accomplished. But putting all of that on your list for one day, then leaving many things unstarted, can be a major hit on our self-esteem and lead us to think we’re not being as productive as we are.
Do the brain dump, but then realistically estimate what you can get done in your day. Leave only those things on your list, then commit yourself to getting them done. Then keep the other list as the backup, just in case you’re more productive than you thought you could be!
With just a bit of organization and planning, days can go from chaotic to controlled, and we can all go from procrastinator to productivity master. What are your best productivity tips? Let us know on Twitter at @AnchorPointTR!