We all procrastinate at one point or another. From what I have seen, no one is perfect in that respect. But we can always improve – some people are far more productive than others, and I believe it is because they have put the right habits in place. Getting work done effectively is a matter of setting up all your routines to ensure you are as productive as possible.
Try these five steps to improve how you work.
1. Get Clear About Your Goal and Why You Want It
It all starts with knowing what you want to achieve. Sometimes we sit down to work, but we are not 100% clear about our direction. Now is the time to get intimately acquainted with your goal.
It helps to visualize what it will look like when you achieve it. Some people like to keep pictures and notes around that remind them of their goal and what it will feel like when they reach it. If your goal is very present for you, it will be much easier to sit down and do the necessary work.
Also, what will it take to reach your goal? When I started writing my book, I knew I wanted it to be 50,000 words, and that I wanted to write it in a year. I divided the number of words by the number of weeks and came up with a weekly goal. This exercise gave me a clear picture of what I needed to do each day to reach my objective.
If you have clear milestones, you will know what you need to work on per day, per week, per month, and how much time you will need for each time increment. If you are not meeting your milestones, you will know that you need to adjust your planning.
Sometimes, once you get the hang of the amount of time you need to put into a specific project, you find yourself blowing past your milestones and doing even more. As you strengthen a muscle in something new, such as writing, speaking, or selling, it will inevitably become easier. It will take less time, and you will probably be able to do much more. That is when things get interesting.
2. Set Up Your Workspace
A cluttered workspace will take time and energy away from what you need to get started. If, on the other hand, your desk, computer, and supplies are ready for you, you will be more likely to get started.
Set it up so that what you need is close to you and easy to find. Also, make sure your workspace is organized, so you do not waste time setting up every time you are ready to start working. I prefer to leave everything organized at the end of the day because the next morning will be much smoother.
3. Avoid Distractions
What is your main distraction? Netflix? Instagram? Try getting rid of them or make it hard for yourself to access them. If you are serious about your goal and Netflix is eating up all your time, cancel it. Often, the problem is our phone. The issue is that many of us also use the phone to work, so stopping yourself from going into social media after taking a call is challenging.
There are tricks, however. You can set up app limits so that you remove the habit of always checking social media. Another trick is to access the apps online. I use WhatsApp, for instance, for work. So instead of opening the mobile version, I use it on the web. Not only am I more effective at responding to messages through the web version, because I can type, but I do not then waste time with other apps.
4. Set Aside Your Time
Part of the reason we procrastinate is that we do not have the time set aside for the work we need to do. And if we do not make the time, we will not work effectively. I had the realization yesterday that time equals value, and we will give time to what we value. So, it is a matter of carving out that space to make sure you do get done what you want to achieve.
If you always have projects going, I suggest setting some time aside permanently that you know will always be there when you need it to work on anything related to them. These spaces of time will not only help you get more done but will also make your schedule more predictable. It will start taking on its rhythm, and it will be much easier to get started. Your body and your brain will have formed the habit, so you will not have to push yourself to get started. Then you will have extra energy that you can save for other endeavors.
5. Develop Self-Discipline
Even the sound of the word might make some people run away, but developing self-discipline is at the core of getting anything done. Once everything is set up in our physical space and our schedule, this becomes the final ingredient. The excellent news about being methodical is that it is a muscle that can grow with time. Have patience with yourself. Just like you would not expect yourself to be able to lift 100 pounds right off the bat, you will not have a steel-like self-discipline if you have never worked on it before.
Little by little, as you work on each of these elements, you will find you are procrastinating less and less and getting more and more accomplished. It takes time, but it will happen if you set your mind to it.