As a lifelong, card-carrying procrastinator, I’ve experienced my fair share of the self-induced stress that comes with waiting until the deadline to accomplish something that I’ve committed to delivering. Along the way to its inevitable completion, it impacts my overall productivity as my brain is cluttered by space dedicated to the stress and strain of procrastination.
Clearly, I’m not alone – you’re reading this blog post hoping to find some new ray of hope that will help you get unstuck and accomplish more each day. Inevitably, we’ll address procrastination, too. If you commit to reading this post for at least two minutes, I promise your investment will pay dividends. Start your timer and read on.
1. Self-care through self-awareness
Taking care of yourself is critically important to all facets of your life, including your ability to produce at your highest levels. This often starts with a conversation with yourself. Ask yourself, “What do I need to be at my best? What time of day am I most alert? What motivates me? How do I define productivity? How will I celebrate milestones along the way to the final product?” Here are some things to consider putting into practice for yourself:
- Track the trends of your stress to bounce forward from setbacks through greater resilience.
- Pay attention to the fuel you consume to optimize your body and mind performance.
- Put your smartphone in another room, or at least out of immediate reach.
- Turn off notifications.
- Take breaks to move, breathe, and get a different perspective.
- Plan for a social connection over lunch (even virtually).
2. Be here, prepared to be nowhere else®.
Another key principle critically important to Fierce® (meaningful, enriching, bold) conversations is being fully present with your partner. This also applies to improving productivity. Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscience professor Earl K. Miller proves to us that “multitasking is not humanly possible.” When we have multiple screens and multiple windows open on our computers it gives us a false sense of accomplishment. Focused attention on one thing at a time not only boosts your productivity, but it also improves the quality of your output.
3. Choose to be fiercely accountable®.
As with most things in life, personal accountability is core to success. Are there real forces working against you? Very likely, yes. Are you asked to deliver more and more at work each year? Definitely. Is your team understaffed? In this hiring climate, indeed. Given all those things are true, ask yourself, “What can I do to get unstuck? What’s within my control?” Congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step toward personal accountability and a more satisfying, productive life.
4. Do you procrastinate? Stop it!
Easier said than done, of course. If you’d like to overcome your tendency to put things off, here are a couple tangible ideas to get you started:
- Tackle your toughest challenge today. In fact, put it at the top of your list. Whether it’s a conversation with a colleague to address their performance or putting the finishing touches on your proposal to the board of directors, do it at the start of your day to get an immediate sense of accomplishment and free up the space in your brain to focus on the next thing on your list – and they’ll all be easier!
- Implement the 2-minute rule. Remember Newton’s law of inertia? Objects at rest tend to stay at rest; objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Set your timer to two minutes and dive into your to-do list. This one’s remarkably simple and incredibly effective. In fact, you’ve already done it and nearly finished reading this article!
5. Bonus pro tip!
When you read articles online like this one, avoid the tendency to get distracted by the various embedded links along the way that serve as portals down rabbit trails. Scan or read through the article first then go back to those that warrant your time and attention. What began as a three-minute blog intended to inspire greater productivity could become a morning devoted to exploring the depths of the ‘interwebs’.
The truth is there is no panacea for productivity. Continue your research until you find those things that work for you. Start implementing one right away to get traction and gain momentum. Give yourself the grace of being a flawed human being just like the rest of us. You’re perfectly imperfect on the path to greater productivity that enables your peak potential.