Procrastinate: “to put off till another day or time; defer; delay”
The Dirty 13-Letter Word
Is it a coincidence the word “procrastinate” has an unlucky number of letters?
“Procrastinate” is the most hated word in time management, because it implies you’re lazy and putting off something that you should be doing. But look at the definition carefully. It simply means to defer or to delay.
As a business owner or freelancer, you know that delaying anything important means losing money. And you are willing to spend as much money or time as it takes to get better at being productive.
Here’s the key word to getting everything you need done in a timely fashion: simplicity. What if your time management technique is too complex?
What if there are activities in your life that are important to you and your business but are still taking up too much time?
Stop Doing, Start Delaying
In a previous post, I’ve mentioned using the Untime app as a way to effectively manage how much time you devote to tasks. It breaks things down into 25-minute intervals, which gives you a chance to accomplish goals if you are a chronic procrastinator.
However, let’s not forget one of the great phrases in organization and time management is do, delay, delegate or dump. But wait, isn’t the definition of “procrastinate” to “delay”? Then again, it obviously wouldn’t sound quite as clever by saying do, procrastinate, delegate or dump, now would it?
How to Become A Procrastinating Pro
The key to procrastinating and doing it right involves a couple of steps:
1) Isolate your toughest distractions and delay or procrastinate *those* tasks instead. Let’s call it Work. Delay. Play. Delay. It’s really about changing your mindset. If you find yourself procrastinating, decide that for a few minutes, you’re going to turn the tables a bit. Delay *those* procrastinating habits and move on to something else.
The big issue with completing a task is that your brain has decided that task is no longer important, and it moves on to something simpler or easier. Go with the flow. Allow yourself to be lazy for a few moments. If you don’t, you’ll only become less productive.
I find myself always doing a lot of internet research and reading blogs or articles In fiddling with my iPad I accidentally discovered “Reading List” using my iPad. If you press down a link in any app or website, a menu pops up and you can add it to a reading list on Safari.
It’s always saved there until you go to Safari to read it. It keeps me from spending hours going through blog after blog or link after link.
When I do have free time, I reward myself by turning that reading list into a to-do list and get a couple of articles read. Suddenly, what was once a time waster is now a part of my accomplishments for that day.
2) Reward yourself always. Punish yourself never. One way to get a complete sense of achievement in your day is to reward yourself. That sort of thing doesn’t always work for people, though. This is especially true if you are having a bad day or you are a chronic procrastinator like myself.
The only app I’ve been able to use to reward myself is the “gamification” app SuperBetter, and that is all about making the choice to see what you are doing is helping you become more resilient.
Again, everything is about mindset. How you choose to perceive the goals or tasks you are taking on mean everything. It’s the difference between seeing yourself as a success or failure.
Example: You have done everything you can to get certain parts of a project completed, but you are only about 30% finished according to your SMART goals, and you have already missed all of the deadlines you have set for yourself in your calendar. You resign yourself to the fact that this project won’t ever get done.
There’s the problem. Instead of focusing on the 70 per cent you haven’t finished, take a moment (or 12) to celebrate the 30 per cent you have accomplished. Forget about all the time you took breaking down the projects into manageable tasks and creating a project calendar. If you can’t bear to look at it again, that’s fine.
Take the lack of completion of a task as a sign you need a break, not that you have failed.
Never, ever, ever beat yourself up for what hasn’t been accomplished that day. If you punish yourself now, you will only accomplish little later.
What techniques do you use to get things done? How do you feel about utilizing procrastination as a way to manage time effectively? Sound off in the comments.
Like what you’ve read here? Are you in need of a boost to your project management? Contact me about a free, 30-minute writing or administrative consultation.
Great question, Willi! I’m a productivity nut, so I could probably post a million tips I should be using right now to work instead of reading blogs. But my favorites, off the top of my head, are:
1. Plan what you’re going to do before you sit down to work. List the top 3 things you’ll do, in order. When you sit down, you can head straight to work.
2. Set a timer. You covered this well in a different blog post.
3. Ask yourself productive questions. “What’s the best use of my time right now?” “Isn’t there an easier or faster way to do this?” “Isn’t there someone else who can do this?”
I have to procrastinate (interruptions) to stay on task. I love Evernote (along with the Evernote clipper for Chrome) and Pocket for capturing stuff to come back to later. That way, I can quickly get back on track without missing a beat.
Evernote is the best! Love it so much. 🙂 I haven’t taken advantage of any of the other apps associated with it so I will try that.