Have you ever wondered where your day went? Do you know this feeling? You stand up and – in your mind – you go through everything you’d like to get done today. But, somehow, the hours go by, and when it’s time to go to bed again, you realize you haven’t done what you wanted to do. So the next day comes, and there you are again, going through everything you’d like to get done while holding your breakfast mug in your hands. This process repeats day after day and a brand new week starts without having accomplished hardly anything of what you wanted to do. Soon, the question “where did my day go?” turns to “where did my week go?”
According to Wikipedia, “Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished by a certain deadline.” Now, as official as it may sound, having a deadline doesn’t necessarily mean that someone gave you a deadline. When you plan to do something this week, your deadline is “this week.” So if you keep postponing it, you aren’t meeting your self-imposed deadline, right?
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Although procrastination isn’t something that we do on purpose (at least not always), finding out why you procrastinate can help you avoid it – and get things done! I’ve found that the most common reasons to procrastinate are:
- You’re scared. What happens if you fail? So you choose not to try, it’s much safer!
- You don’t enjoy accomplishing a specific task, so you keep postponing it. More than understandable, right?
- As Mark Twain said, “eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
- Translation: The sooner you take up uncomfortable tasks, the sooner you’ll get them out of your mind.
- You don’t know how to set priorities properly. And prioritizing properly is THE key to accomplish the tasks you want to get done.
Why Is It Important to Set Priorities
Before we set our priorities, we need to know what we want to achieve. We have to write down our goals – whichever size they are. Goals can be huge or small, but you have to know what you want to be able to plan the steps to get there.
Setting priorities may sound complicated, but it’s as easy as writing down what you need to do in order to get to your goal.
And why do you need to set those priorities? Because chances are, if you’re struggling with procrastination, that you have too much on your plate. There are so many little tasks to be done during the day, that it’s easy to get caught up and start making excuses.
So don’t let everyday routines lead your life. I know, you probably have to do the washing, clean up your desk, or go to the grocery shop – but who doesn’t, right? There’s a time for everything, but writing on your planner everything you have to do will help you figure out how much time you really have free to complete all tasks you want to get done.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
– Stephen Covey
Urgencies vs. Priorities
It’s actually funny how we think that the busier we are, the more productive we are. But that isn’t necessarily true. The truth is that we tend to get distracted with what I call “false urgencies”, or those little quick calls to action that we get multiple times a day – and we feel the urge to complete them. The main reason why we feel that urge is that we want them out of our brain. And ironically enough, by getting them out of our brains, we aren’t undertaking those tasks which were already on our mind – and that should have a bigger priority in your life – at least long-term.
So you may even blame your kids, family or friends as the reason for not following your dreams. They need you, so how could you not be there – like the minute they call? But think about that: Would you also be immediately there if you had a doctor’s appointment? Your yoga class? How many real urgencies do we have?
What happens with those things we really have to take care of – even though they’re not that urgent? And what happens with doctors’ appointments or with grocery shopping? Now, you don’t have to stop buying groceries (you can buy them online though!), nor do you have to start styling your hair instead of going to the hairdressers’.
However, what you can do is set those appointments either first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or in the evenings. In that way, you may have to start your day a bit later, or maybe your lunch break is longer than usual, but at least your scheduled plan won’t be as completely ruined as it would be if you’d set your appointments in the middle of the day!
So let’s go ahead and find out 7 easy steps to get things done and turn “procrastination” into an old-fashioned word in your vocabulary!
7 Steps to Avoid Procrastination
- Set a goal. What do you want to achieve this year? What would you like to do or become?
- What do you need to achieve it? Write down the steps you need to take to get to that goal.
- Now, write a list with everything else you have on your plate. And I mean everything! Leave your mind completely empty of to-do tasks!
- Write down each of those tasks in your calendar, but don’t feel the urge to get those non-important little tasks done:
- First, add to your planner or calendar those appointments you can’t skip.
- Second, those tasks that need to be done to achieve your goal.
- Then, find a slot for all other tasks.
- Don’t forget to add free time!
- Make sure you stick to your plan and don’t start anything which isn’t on the planner.
- Every time that something pops in your head – whether it’s a new idea you have, or something you realize you need to buy -, write it down immediately. That will give you ease of mind and you won’t forget about it!
- Every morning, when you wake up, go through your scheduled tasks and reorder if necessary, but remember: Important, goal-related tasks come first!
A goal without a plan is just a wish
– St Antoine d’Exupery
Tools Which Can Help You Set Priorities
There are several tools and apps which may help you set priorities. Try them out for yourself and choose the ones that work for you!
Start Saying “No” and Think of Yourself for a Change
When someone asks you to do something during your scheduled time, propose a new day and time, but don’t let all your planning down just because someone needs something!
You have to learn to say “no.” We all have those friends who are always asking for favors. Now, if the timing doesn’t match, just give them an alternative.
However, if you don’t really want to do whatever they’re asking you to, and the only reason you help them is that you feel the obligation to do it, practice saying “no” a couple of times. You’ll see, it’s magical!
I always tell my children that the only reasons they can disturb me when I’m working should involve blood, fire or someone breaking into our house. I know, I’m exaggerating, but they get what I mean 😀
Think of yourself for a change. You have so much to do, and there’s so much more you’d like to do, but you keep postponing it, right? So how is it that you always find time to help others? Why don’t you try making yourself a favor? Tell me, what have you done today? Something for yourself?
Need some more productivity tips? Check out how to manage your time to get your online business off the ground!