This is a follow up to last week’s procrastination episode on my email debacle. This week is all about antidotes to Avoidance and Procrastination (A&P).
Though I don’t have a magic pill to offer you instant productivity, here’s perhaps the next best thing: 5 productivity hacks to get you unstuck and moving ahead on track.
We’ve all avoided or procrastinated doing the “right” thing at some point. And it happens in all areas of our lives—from our artistic work, to handling the “business side” of our careers, to taking care of our health, personal finances, and relationships.
There’s always a chain of “legitimate” excuses preventing us from doing the work. And these keep us prisoners, victims of our own behavior.
Our Resistance is a clever enemy: we’re all very good at talking ourselves out of doing the work needed to make change.
So here are my favorite productivity hacks plus some bonus resources.
Try them on — and I’d love to hear what else has worked for you!
1. Identify your top priority project.
Think what you’ve been avoiding and are most nervous about. The thing we delay doing is the project that challenges us the most—and that offers the most growth potential.
Once you know what is truly important, break it down into the next needed and manageable step. Don’t go for perfect; just get it going. It’s one day at a time. Go for the small wins.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Bookend each day with mini-planning.
Use the first 5 minutes and the last five minutes of your day to plan your work so you can work your plan. This is a small investment pays dividends. Each evening schedule tomorrow’s time block for your priority project. Designate specific time for the most important thing each day in the morning, when you’re best able to focus. Plan your other work around this priority appointment with yourself. The best thing about doing this is the confidence that comes with being on track and the sense that you can handle the rest of the day ahead.
3. Schedule distraction-free time blocks:
block off an hour (or 2 or 3 depending on the project and your schedule) for concentrated focused work on your ONE top priority project.
To help you stay on track within any designated time block, set yourself up to work distraction free. Put a sign on the door and alert colleagues or family members in advance you are not to be disturbed during these periods.
Important: turn your phone OFF and put it in another room. No instant messaging, texting, emailing, or extra-curricular surfing. If needed, disconnect your computer from the internet. It’s cyber detox: real work means getting unplugged.
Multi-tasking is a myth. You can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Studies show that after a distraction “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”
Worried about not being plugged in? Feeling nervous that things will implode if you don’t respond immediately?
Nothing will blow up. I promise. Anyone trying to reach you can do so after your time block is done. Don’t cheat yourself. Stay focused.
4. Keep yourself on track with the Pomodoro technique.
The Pomodoro technique helps you break any big project down into the tasks that you can work through in 20 minute increments. If you like, use a kitchen timer.
Be intentional—decide what you will specifically focus on in each 20 minutes. That’s how I got myself to write the dreaded email. I find I can stand to do just about anything for 20 minutes.
5. Have an accountability partner.
This might be a colleague, friend, mentor, or coach. Someone you alert about your intention to complete the task that day. Ask that person to check in on you afterwards to help hold you accountable. It’s SO great to be able to report, “I DID IT!”
With a colleague, you may want to trade checking in with each other on your projects—so that it’s equally beneficial to you both.
Try the Five Productivity Hacks—I’ll be very curious to hear how these work and what other tools you find helpful to get your best work done!
Question: what’s the ONE thing you could do this week that would help you most move ahead in your career?
Curious to learn how coaching could help you reach you goals? Details here.
Here’s to your future,
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well