Do you, as Dr. Piers Steele says, “voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off for the delay?” This classic definition of procrastination shows that we are not ignorant of the consequences of our delays, and thus need to take purposeful action to combat these unproductive behaviors.
A to-do list can be a powerful weapon in your anti-procrastination battles. Your to-do system must start your day, guide your actions during the day, and close out your work at the end of the day. It is a living, not static, system that functions as an inventory of everything you need to accomplish now and in the future.
Here are some tips to lessen those voluntary delays:
- Make your to-do items actionable by including a verb in each item (ex: read, call, review, buy, etc.). The presence of a verb will reduce the delay between when you read and when you start a task.
- Procrastinate productively by updating your to-do list. If your list is already current, pick a larger project and break down the steps required to complete it. Once the list is updated, then it is time to act!
- Plan to address the more cerebral tasks during the time of day when you tend to be most alert and creative. Conversely, save the more mindless to-dos for time periods when you tilt toward the more tired side of life.
- Include fun tasks on your to-do list. Hold those tasks out as rewards for completing the less desirable action items. In psychology circles, this is called self-regulation, and it is a great model for maintaining motivation on a task.
- Find something meaningful or pleasant in every task – this can be a challenge, but use your imagination and turn the completion of unpleasant tasks into a game
- Focus on the future benefits of task completion. Procrastination is often a result of an overemphasis on the now in lieu of tomorrow. Remember why you need to complete the task to begin with.
One can be busy without being productive. People who are busy are constantly in motion, but may spend the majority of their time reacting to their environment and performing tasks with minimal regard for priorities. Procrastination often leads to lots of busyness. Productive people, by contrast, are able to assess their workload and make good business decisions about how to allocate their time at work.
A consistently-used to-do system can change a busy day into a productive one. via @melissagratias Tweet This…
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Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.