Avoiding Distractions & Reducing ProCrastination
fm Keep Inspiring.me 10 Sept 15 enhanced by Peter/CXO Wiz4biz
There is no single “best way” to overcome Pro-Crastination.
Personally, I’ve come to embrace my pro-crastinating nature to a certain degree. When my To-Do list gets too long, I simply start a new one. And you know what? Most of the time, the tasks I thought I “had” to do turned out to be not so important after all.
A Sign? Sometimes, procrastination can be a sign that what we’re working on the wrong thing. It can also be a sign that maybe we need to step back, take a deep breath, & recharge before tackling the task again tomorrow.
or Laziness? Of course, sometimes pro-crastination is a product of laziness. If you have something to research, a paper to write, if you have a presentation to make, or a boss/client to appease, then the work will have to get done, whether you start today or put it off until tomorrow.
Only do Work you’re “really” Passionate about. Maybe you don’t have a pro-crastination problem as much as you have a “work” problem. If you find yourself pro-crastinating day in & day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, maybe you’re not doing what you’re meant to do. Maybe its time to switch careers (work for an exciting company) or start your own business – to pursue your passion.
Do what Must be done. Of course, there’s also a good chance you’re faced with a painful, unpleasant task and you simply need to “power through it”, to get to where you want to be in life. If that’s the case, then read on. If there’s work you need to get done, here are some effective ways you can try overcoming pro-crastination:
1. Start your day off right. The first 30-60 Minutes of the Day is always for Work. Does this sound familiar: you start the work day/study session by telling yourself you’re “just going to check email/ facebook/ twitter/ reddit for 5 minutes, then I’m going to get to work”. Before you know it, 2 minutes has dragged into too many minutes, and you realize you’ve spent a big chunk of your time sucked into a never-ending loop of checking email, social media, & your favorite viral news sites? The first 30-60 minutes of your work day should be spent doing work. If you need to check email or your social news sites, do it once you’ve established a good work habit and you’ll find it much easier to shut it off. Or better yet, “block distractions” out completely until you’re done. Having trouble jumping into those first minutes? Start by telling yourself that you’re just going to get 10 minutes of work done and if its just too painful, you’ll give yourself a break. That first 10 minutes is usually all you need to start getting focused and get the momentum going – to do all you need.
2. Become more Self-Aware. Pro-crastination usually comes in two forms. There’s: 1) Difficulty in starting a task, & 2) Getting distracted while working on a task.
They both follow a similar pattern of self rationalization: 1) You tell yourself “I really need to get started on this”, 2) You feel stressed, & 3) You feel an urge to do something else, so you tell yourself “I’ll get started soon, but I can afford another 5 minutes doing this one other thing.”
Giving yourself this little reprieve, relieves the stress temporarily & reinforces the neural pathways associated with pro-crastination, making it just a bit easier to fall victim to procrastination again, 5 minutes later. Try this next time you find yourself facing this never-ending cycle. Next time you’re about to start a task and you feel a voice in your head telling you to “Check your email, it might be important!”, or “I wonder if anyone commented on my Facebook status”, resist the urge. Tell yourself you’ll just resist it this one time. You’ll find that the urge does pass once you acknowledge it for what it is – a sudden impulse driven by your reptilian brain.
3. Block out Distractions. Did you know that willpower is a limited resource that can be depleted like any other form of energy? Much like going on a morning jog tires you out for your evening work out. The more energy you spend resisting temptation, the less energy you’ll have for resisting temptation later on. This has been confirmed by LifeHacker. What does this mean for someone trying to get rid of pro-crastination? It means that just knowing that Facebook or Reddit is one click away, can make it more likely that you’ll get “distracted” & start pro-crastinating. While you might be able to resist the temptation during the first half of your work day, as you expend energy focusing, you’ll become more & more likely to give into temptation and start procrastinating. To avoid this, use SW like RescueTime, to block distracting websites, or block the internet out altogether. Not having to deal with the temptation of constant distractions will not only make it less likely that you’ll succumb to momentary temptation, but it will actually give you more energy to focus on your work and avoid procrastinating when you’re tired.
4. Embrace Imperfection. One of the reasons we pro-crastinate is to avoid having to make tough decisions and deal with a difficult task. If you’re trying to write the perfect Business Plan, coming up with the perfect Pitch can be so intimidating that you don’t even want to get started. Instead of always aiming for perfection, start intimidating projects by just getting started. Can’t come up with a perfect first line? Just start writing anything that comes to mind on the topic. Can’t think of what to focus on? Just start writing down anything vaguely related to the subject matter. The same can be applied to research. Is the thought of reading that thick textbook too intimidating? Too tired to take notes or really process the concepts? Just skim through what you need to get through and come back later to re-examine the material when you’re refreshed. Getting “something” done is better than doing nothing, and once you get started, you’ll often find you have more energy than you thought you did.
5. Schedule your Top Tasks. Human beings can be strange – if we’re meeting a friend, we’ll set a fixed time to do so, and we show up. Most of us would never make an appointment with a friend and simply avoid showing up for no reason. Yet when it comes to important tasks like going to the gym, or getting another chapter written for your Business Plan, we’ll just set vague goals and feel perfectly comfortable pushing back our self-imposed deadlines. Start scheduling your important tasks and showing up, no matter what. You wouldn’t bail on a meeting with a friend just because you feel a little tired, would you? So why do you do it with the gym? If you want to go to the gym 3 times a week, instead of just telling yourself you’ll go 3 times this week, pick 3 days and 3 times that you’re going to show up, and don’t miss those appointments no matter what.
Comments: Do you have any techniques to avoid Distractions & reduce Pro-Crastination?