Step 1: Set goals and prioritise
First things first, you need to establish what exactly it is that you want to achieve. Although it can be tempting to start with something easy, try prioritising your tasks so that you get all the important things out of the way first.
Todoist is a great little app that allows users to create tasks, set deadlines and prioritise projects and goals. You can even share projects with others and delegate tasks if needed. The app also lets you review your completed tasks so that you can map out your progress and make adjustments where needed.
Step 2: Manage your time efficiently
Now that you know what you have to do, think about how you are going to organise your time so that the task gets done! Try to identify the times of day that you are at your most productive, whether it’s early in the morning or late at night.
A popular time management method for a serial procrastinator is the Pomodoro Technique, which is essentially interval training for the brain. Using this technique, you break your work time down into 25-minute intervals, sandwiched between short breaks to maximise concentration and productivity. Jump on the website Tomato Timer for a free countdown to keep you on Pomodoro schedule.
Step 3: Minimise distraction
When you’re prone to procrastination, that ‘quick look’ through Facebook often ends up being a lengthy waste of time. Avoiding distractions and time-wasting habits is crucial when working to a deadline.
RescueTime is a fantastic time management tool that provides a comprehensive overview of how you spend your time online. With RescueTime, you can identify areas of improvement and isolate sites chewing up your time.
Once you’ve figured out which sites are slowing your workflow, cut them out with a productivity extension like StayFocusd. With StayFocusd, you can either set yourself time limits on certain websites or completely block them. The ‘Nuclear Option’, which blocks sites for a set time frame with no option for cancellation, is a particularly great feature for those lacking self-control!
Step 4: Establish a pattern
To beat procrastination long-term, make meeting deadlines a habit. That way, you can transform a difficult task into a routine, everyday project that simply has to be done.
The app Habit Streak is great for this, keeping track of your daily goals and encouraging you to work at them for multiple days in a row. The premise is simple: every time you complete a set task, you maintain a ‘habit streak’. Every time you miss a deadline, you lose your streak. And as your streak gets progressively bigger with each task you complete, we guarantee it will become harder and harder to break.
Step 5: Reward progress
As important as it is to get the job done, it is equally important that you recognise your progress as you go. Motivate yourself with the promise of doing something fun or relaxing once you’ve completed your work. It’s a good idea to turn your usual distractions into incentives, e.g. allowing yourself an hour on Facebook. You’ll probably notice you enjoy it a lot more when you don’t have the guilty feeling that you should be doing something else.
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