In a world full of distractions, it’s easier than ever for even the most motivated people to get sidetracked. We can find ourselves wandering down the rabbit hole of emails, social media, or the latest TV series at the touch of a button! They say procrastination is like a credit card, though – it’s a whole lot of fun until you get the bill. Eventually, you’re going to have to do the work that you’ve been putting off, and when it comes time to do that, it’s best that you have some strategies in place. Otherwise, you might just find yourself getting overwhelmed all over again! Read on to discover some of our top tips for overcoming procrastination with time management.
Time Management Tip #1: Eliminate Decision Fatigue
Ever had analysis paralysis? Too many choices, so you haven’t made any? What a waste of time! Fact is, there’s only so much decision-making willpower that your brain can handle on a given day. Save that energy for the big, important decisions by eliminating the tiny ones. This tip works really well in concert with tip #2. Rather than tossing and turning over what you’re going to wear the next morning, pick your clothes out the night before. Better yet, wear the same outfit every day! This is what US President Barack Obama did so that he could focus on running a nation rather than which suit he was going to don. Spend ten minutes thinking about what to have for breakfast? Meal prep the same thing for five days running! All of these marginal gains take a little bit of stress off your shoulders, allowing your mind to focus on the things that are actually important to your success.
Time Management Tip #2: Environment Design
This nifty tip might involve a little bit of redecorating. Once you’ve done so, you’ll find that your time management improves without even thinking about it! Have you ever wanted to develop the habit of exercising first thing in the morning, but found that when you wake up, you can’t quite be bothered going to your wardrobe for your runners? Here’s an idea: put them by your bed! This is, in essence, environment design. You aim to remove all the friction that stands in the way of you and the things you need to do. Is your web browser homepage set to your email, or a social media site? Set it to a work-appropriate website instead! Do you find it difficult to get out of bed, even to make yourself a cup of coffee? Make it the night before, and pop it in a thermos on your bedside table!
The particulars of this tip will depend on the person using it, but we strongly encourage you to think about the ways that you can rearrange and redecorate your living and work spaces to direct you away from the things that limit your productivity, and toward the things that enhance it. The results might come gradually, but you’ll be surprised how much you improve over the course of a number of weeks.
Time Management Tip #3: Chunking
Chunking might sound like a silly word, but it’s surprisingly effective. In essence, this is the practice of breaking your tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Let’s say that you have a report due first thing tomorrow morning. That might sound like a daunting proposition, but let’s chunk it. First, you may have to gather the relevant information. Then, you need to plan out the structure. Next, you need to write the first draft. After that, you can edit, and you’re basically done! You’ve broken one big job into four much smaller jobs.
You don’t have to stop there either. Some people report having success with even more fine-grained chunking. You might break those jobs down into their component parts again, like going paragraph by paragraph. It can get to the point of breaking things into tiny individual tasks like opening a document, or Googling a certain phrase! It might sound as though you’re making your to-do list longer, but ticking off every tiny item will give you the motivation you need to proceed to the next one, building momentum as you go!
Bonus Time Management Tip: Cut Procrastination Off At The Source
Did you know that recent studies have found that while procrastination is somewhat of a time management issue, it is more so a problem of emotional dysregulation? Recognise the way you feel when you consider the tasks that you have to do. Sense them in your body, and try not intellectualise them. Jot down some reflections in a journal if you can, or practise a body scan meditation. Feeling the anger, fear, shame, or guilt that might be at the root of your procrastination can allow you to move on from it, and return to your tasks with renewed vigour, having let go of the baggage that might have been holding you back!
If you’re interested in learning more about time management, consider taking a Time Management Course with Pathways Australia! Browse our website and contact us for further details.