Move over procrastination!
It is easy to give in to procrastination when there is a lot on your plate. Here is what I did to overcome procrastination and become more productive.
I used to be a world class procrastinator. In fact, for the longest time, procrastinating was my forte. And no, it did not do me any good. In a time when remote working has become the norm, it is easy to sit back and think there is ample time to work and study and that’s when we lose track of time. That is exactly what happened to me. When exams got closer, I panicked because I couldn’t squeeze in enough study time to catch up with what I missed while I watched hundreds of documentaries and movies.
Now I won’t go into details of that experience. But I will share what I did to overcome procrastination. I must warn you that it wasn’t a bed of roses. Once you get used to being a procrastinator, it takes time to get back on track. The important thing is to take that first step.
First of all, all credit goes to Brian Tracy’s book, ‘Eat that Frog!’ No, it is not a cookbook with exquisite recipes. I call it my game changer book. I’ll share some of the tips I borrowed from Mr. Tracy. It was and is still useful to me. And I’m sure that these tips will be useful to you as well!
1. Define your goals, write them down and create a plan to implement them.
This is essentially your study plan. How you figure it out depends on your schedule. It is unique to you, so take some time to revisit and revise the plan. Make sure it is practical to reach your targets. Set deadlines. Keep it simple.
2. Use the ABCDE method
Now this is straight out of the book.
A – are the tasks that you MUST do. You can prioritize by adding numbers, for example: A1, A2, A3.
B – are the tasks you should do. Replying to emails or attending meetings are often should-do tasks.
C - are tasks that are nice-to-dos. You’d like to do them, but there are no consequences if you don't.
D – are tasks that you should delegate to someone else so you have more time for your "A" tasks.
E – are tasks that are things you should eliminate.
This is simply a format that you can edit as you wish according to your plans. Generally, I don’t have Cs or Ds.
3. Prepare for your work before you start on it
Clean your desk, arrange your notes and other study materials. Take about 5 minutes to prepare before you start studying. It will give you a boost of energy to reach your daily target.
4. When it's time to work, work!
This is a quite straight forward logic. Here is what I do. I use a pomodoro timer but I somehow manage to study the targeted area within the allocated time. The trick is to break it down into smaller segments. For example, If I have allocated 3 hours of study time a day, I would study for 30 minutes and take a break for 5 minutes. Then continue with that process until my study time is up. The best part about this method is that you get to preserve your energy and be more productive than during regular, continuous 3 hours of work.
5. Don't let technology distract you
During the study sessions, keep away from social media! Period!
6. Schedule time on your calendar
As simple as it sounds, allocating time for work, studies and breaks is essential to maximize productivity. Yes, breaks are very important. I usually allocate 25 minutes to have an energy nap during slow hours of the day. I either drink a tiny cup of black coffee or green tea 10 minutes prior to my energy nap. This aids in keeping me energized after my nap.
Apart from the above, I have also made a commitment to exercise and diet changes. I make time to exercise daily by completing just 15 to 20 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts daily. It is important to keep yourself hydrated with lots and lots of water. I have cut down anything with added sugar since I’m addicted to sweets. Since doing so, I don’t go through energy depletions.
Most importantly, though, what will keep you motivated is the joy that you get every time you complete a task or a topic where you realize that you have one less topic to do. That is the main motivator to eliminate procrastination once and for all!
Dhiren is studying the LLM in Sri Lanka.