Your Simple 10-Step Guide to Beat Procrastination and Boost Productivity!
"I used to crastinate, but I got so good I went Pro!" Who else?
I absolutely love this quip! It's so funny and witty, especially because it is so accurate for so many of us!
(Photograph from Christine Violet : https://rb.gy/ggjxt2)
I used to majorly procrastinate everything that I was supposed to do, like all the time! In fact, I felt like I was not in control of what I was doing, like I was on autopilot and the automated version of me just wanted to lay down on the couch, eating and watching some Netflix show or watching Youtube videos for hours on end. Then, for a few moments, when I would come to my senses, I would realise that I have done nothing productive, deadlines are coming closer and that realisation would stress me out and I would go back to watching something to avoid thinking about it. Really, if you think about it, it's a vicious cycle.
Every few days, I would realise that I have to do something about it and that's where planning would come in. Now, my mom and I absolutely love planning. We would make a list of things that needed to get done and a daily timed schedule for it. And every third day, we'd be making a new kind of schedule because I didn't follow that last one. Everytime we made a schedule, we laughed about how, in two days, we'd be making a new one!
So, here's to the joys and laughs of the learning process, to the systems that didn't work and to the ones that did!
However, with multiple trials and errors, multiple variations of what works and what doesn't, with multiple analysis of what external factors contributed to non-compliance, we have, in a sense, fine-tuned our planning system and I can finally commit to it.
With multiple trials and errors, we have, in a sense, fine-tuned our planning system.
So, presenting to you, a tried and tested system that will help you beat procrastination and increase productivity!
STEP 1: Declutter your workspace
An organised workspace does wonders to your productivity and output and there is much research to prove this point. It creates a conducive environment and sets the tone for the day.
What you need to do today itself is - go to your workspace and sort things into 3 categories:
a) Things you absolutely need
b) Things which you want (maybe they look good or are gifts)
c) Things that do not belong in your workspace (used papers or pencil shavings or a used bowl/glass)
Once you sort out your things, you want to organise them and keep them in their place, like items in Group A preferably go in a drawer or shelf near your workspace so your desk will be free, Group B would go to a display location or in a box (I prefer to always keep a box of memories) and Group C goes in the trash or in the kitchen, depending on the item.
Once you are done with this, you'll already feel so much better and all geared up for the next step.
It creates a conducive environment and sets the tone for the day.
STEP 2: Declutter your mind
An organised workspace has the effect that you feel like you have everything on track. However, a very important step before we get into the actual planning part is to declutter your mind.
We all have very intelligent minds and they are always working. Thoughts are constant and there's nothing wrong with that, but here, we need to take a moment to realise that random thoughts running incessantly through our minds is one of the reasons we can't work efficiently and tend to procrastinate.
So, go ahead and find a notebook or diary. This will be your 'Brain-dump'. Whatever comes to your mind, you write that down in that. Keep it with you at all times, especially when working. Now, in the middle of working, a random thought comes to your mind. Normally, you would've had a chain of thoughts and spiralled down the path of low output and lost interest. But, from now on, when that thought comes, you write it down, convince your mind that you will come to it later and go back to working.
This seems like a very minor step, but it has a great impact for most people.
When that thought comes, you write it down, convince your mind that you will come to it later and go back to working.
STEP 3: Start a planner
Doesn't matter if you are reading this in March or June or September, you need to start a planner! If there's not enough months left in this year to buy a very expensive planner...it's alright. Get a more affordable one or even use a diary to create a DIY planner...but start!
You can choose whatever method works for you -
a) Plan your entire week on Sunday night or Monday morning
b) Plan each day - early morning that day or previous night
In the planning part - Make time slots and fill them with tasks.
How we reach the tasks and other tips on planner use are described in the coming steps.
STEP 4: Make a To-Do list
For this, you can use your planner or a separate notepad.
A few tips for your to-do list:
a) Keep the tasks precise (eg. Don't write 'Study', write 'Complete section 3 of Anatomy')
b) Colour code or arrange the tasks in order of priority
c) Every night, review the list and tick mark the ones that you completed
I know it seems like a lot to do, but it doesn't seem that much once you start practicing it. Also, you can give yourself a break on weekends.
STEP 5: Don't Overburden, Don't 'Underburden' (DODU)
Always remember this thumb rule when making a To-Do list or planning your day.
There's not much to explain here - make sure you don't overburden yourself and make sure you don't 'underburden' yourself. It will take a few days to understand how much you can accomplish in a day, but once you do, it'll be a smooth journey from then on.
It will take a few days to understand how much you can accomplish in a day, but once you do, it'll be a smooth journey from then on.
STEP 6: Use motivation - Rinse and repeat
Everybody is different in terms of where they derive their inspiration and what motivates them. Everybody is also different in terms of how long one set of motivation lasts. Some people get motivated by looking at Youtube motivational videos and some by watching documentaries of sportspersons. Some people prefer inspirational quotes and some by listening to motivational songs. However, if you are like me, you probably need multiple sources and one source never lasts for more than a day or two!
What you need to do now is recognise what works for you and use that. Do more things that inspire you and if you need to read motivational quotes often to feel inspired, then do that!
So get motivated and once it wears off - Rinse and repeat!
What you need to do now is recognise what works for you, use that and then, Rinse and Repeat!
STEP 7: Always remember the 'WHY'
It's a very cliche` thing to say, I know, but it's true! Always being aware and mindful of the 'WHY' - why you started, what you set out to achieve and why that is important to you, has a huge impact on your tendency to push back work because you'll always understand why that work is important to you and the life you've always wanted.
So, get clear on your 'WHY' and make sure to keep that in mind consistently.
STEP 8: Start TODAY itself
One thing that I used to do every time I would plan in between phases of procrastination is that I used to plan out everything and put tasks for everyday, but from The Next Day i.e. the 'TOMORROW' because I would be feeling great about myself on the day I planned for just being able to get out of the cycle and do something!
But, over hundreds of failed schedules, I realised that when I started work from the 'TODAY' itself, I was much more likely to commit to it.
So there you have the next step - Start TODAY!!!
STEP 9: Discipline is the key
In the initial few days, you'll be tempted to break the schedule, you'll be tempted to get back into autopilot, you'll feel like you were happier when you were binge - watching.
But you have to make yourself stick to it and discipline is the key.
I know that it's easier said than done and I know that you are already aware of it, but this is just a reminder.
And to make compliance less demanding, there's always Steps 6 & 7!
STEP 10: Don't be too hard on yourself - Forgive yourself and Try again
The process is not easy; the journey from being a major procrastinator to being a put - together person is not at all easy.
So, while being disciplined is important, it is also vital that you forgive yourself for not being able to commit to the schedule for a day and start the next day with equal endeavour, in the belief that 'Today will be more productive'.
It is important to forgive yourself for your mental health and peace as well as because the last thing we want is to lose more time regretting it and risk falling back into autopilot.
So - Forgive yourself and Try again.
There you have it - the 10 steps you need to increase productivity like crazy and beat one of your biggest adversaries - procrastination!
It will be tough and you'll want to quit, but if you stick to these steps, you'll see the transformation in yourself.
Take action, use these steps and start planning meaningfully and with intent to begin your journey towards unleashing your true potential by maximum productivity!
Hope you find this rewarding!
Let me know your thoughts and whether you tried it.
And I look forward to seeing you here next time.
Until Next time,
Stay Happy! Stay Beautiful!