We all feel it: when we have so much on our plate, it can be difficult to know what tasks to prioritize, and we spend so much time feeling overwhelmed that we actually get little done. We might also put things off because we feel so disillusioned that any task can feel like a battle. When we feel like we are not achievingthe goals and the tasks that we set out to do, it all adds to our stress levels and, over time, could also lead to feelings of depression.
However, rather than having a lack of time to do things, as we often think holds us back, it is our mindset. If you are looking for the best ways to stop procrastinating and be more productive, this guide shows you how.
Break Down Your Tasks
You know that huge project report you have to write? Or the first draft of your book you need to submit to your publisher? Any project can give you that feeling of being so big that you feel anxious about getting it done. That is when some of us can freeze in our tracks, unable to get over the insurmountable feeling it gives us.
However, all projects, from the biggest to the smallest, are all just a matter of taking a series of small steps. All you have to do is start.If you have a big project, take a piece of paper and write down all the smaller steps you need to do to achieve it. Then, work on one at a time. Doing this will help you focus your energy, and by getting the smaller tasks completed first, you will see that you are making progress.
Use a Planner
A planner is a tool that helps you visualize what tasks you need to do and when. It helps you remember appointments, set your goals for the weeks or months ahead, and allows you to schedule time slots where you can do specific tasks to help you reach your goals.
You should plan your biggest tasks for the day during the morning, as usually, that is when you have the most energy. Save the smaller tasks for later on in the day.
There are all sorts of ways to use a planner, but the most simple is a weekly or monthly calendar where you can write down what you need to do each day. You could use an online calendar, such as Google, or have one up on your wall to give you a visual reminder of how your goals are progressing. A good reason to use a wall planner is that you can use brightly colored sticky notes to plan your tasks. Should your priorities change, then you can simply peel off your sticky note and place it on another day.
Have a Good System
Is your paperwork in a heap on your desk? How many emails are in your inbox? Without having a system in place to keep your workload organized, it is easy to feel overwhelmed quickly. Set up a good system so that you know where the things are that you need, so you can get on with your tasks without having to look for anything important.
Take a few moments each day to file paperwork, put relevant emails into folders and throw out the things that you don’t need. When you are organized and tidy, it helps you to focus on your tasks.
When you are unmotivated, trying to get the simplest of tasks done can feel like wading through water. However, there is a technique you can use to help, and that is using a timer. Set a timer to go off after twenty minutes, and once you press the start button, all you need to do is focus on one particular taskfor that time.
Knowing that you only have tomake the effort for twenty minutes before a break gives you a new sense of energy for any task. Even the most tedious of jobs can be managed with a good feeling when you know you only have to focus for a set amount of time, and it is amazing what you can achieve with a bit of consistent effort!
Know when to say ‘no’
If you are trying to meet the demands of clients, or if your boss is piling on the pressure and your workload is putting a strain on you, don’t be afraid to say no. Trying to please everyone means you are spreading yourself too thin, and your quality of work is the first thing to take a downturn.
Saying no to demands when you need to shows that you care about your work and yourself, and, rather than upsetting people, most will respect it and be willing to wait for your services.
When you feel stressed and overwhelmed by your workload, then relaxation techniques like meditation can help you clear your mind and refocus your energy.
If you are new to meditating, start with a few minutes per day. Close your eyes and focus on the breaths going in and out of your body, and be aware of the sensations you feel. It is all about feeling present in the moment, rather than thinking about anything. It can be tricky to master at first, but with regular practice, you will be able to meditate for longer.
Meditation is said to improve blood flow, sharpen your focus and memory. It can help you to also feel energized, so when you tackle your list of jobs, you do it in a positive frame of mind.
Most of us feel that we could do more to be productive, and what works for some might not work for others. When you do find yourself being productive, make a note of what it was that caused that to happen. Was it getting a good night’s sleep? Or perhaps you decided to wake an hour earlier each day to work on tasks. Maybe it was just good planning! When you find something that works for you, stick with it and see how your procrastination stops and your productivity rises!