Best laid plans.
I like lists. I like planning. Too often, though, my lists and plans never make it beyond the paper. They get me all excited but don’t actually cause action. I procrastinate starting them for some reason which I’ve never been able to understand.
I came upon this post by Leo Babauta at Zen Habits and it really made me think I can change this issue I have with procrastination.
“List my Most Important Tasks.”
First he suggests to list out your tasks. Oh mama this is my favorite part. I can spend hours just doing this. Some people call it a brain dump. It’s awesome. This first step though, is not where I have a problem.
“Do the first things early.”
This is where I start to get into trouble. I start my days getting organized. I feel as though I’ve entered a tornado the moment I sit down at my desk. Most days I manage to make a list of things I need to get done that day, however, once I start scheduling things into my day I rarely leave time for the things that pop up throughout the day. Next thing I know, I’ve been sucked into a vortex of fires and it is 3:25pm. As I write this I’m planning to get myself organized for tomorrow before I leave work today. I think this will help me get my days started on the right foot.
The other barrier I encounter in getting things done are the numerous personal distractions. My mom calls, that sucks up 20 minutes. I remember I am supposed to order birthday invitations for #1’s birthday, write that down. I get a phone call from a company trying to sell me something… 5 minutes of my life just disappeared. I think by limiting the amount of important tasks to get done, I can account for those unforeseen little distractions.
“Get the other things done as early as the schedule allows.”
The concept he follows is to work solid for 20 minutes, then take a 10 minute break. This requires a good amount of discipline. I know there are apps out there to limit your internet access during these times to help with distractions but my tasks often require me to interact with Facebook and be on blogs. I get distracted easily here. Another major tangent I will go on is with our community pages and interacting with our customers. In my day job, I enjoy and take pride in my ability to be in touch with our community which requires me to check our message boards often. I know this helps our brand and our customer engagement overall. This time is well spent but easily is 5 minutes that turns into an hour.
I think if I add these to the list of things I’m allowed to do AFTER my important tasks are completed. I AM very aware how these minor distractions are adding up and affecting my overall productivity. I’m 35 years old this year and how have I not mastered the art of productivity??? When does that typically settle in?
Sigh. Seriously I’m 35 this year…
“A 10-minute break is allowed”
This is where I can see a problem. 10 minutes won’t be enough. If I get distracted and sucked into email or Instagram or Pinterest or any of the other 1,549 possible distractions it is extremely difficult for me to get back on track. That being said, knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel when putting your head down to work is critical. Otherwise I won’t put my head down. I have to do something to hold myself accountable here but I’m not sure an alarm clock will be enough. Maybe limiting myself to a set of specific parameters like, I can check my IG feed, respond to emails and update projects which need my attention. Then I have to get back to my next task.
“No wine at night if I mess up.”
This is actually a good motivator for me. More from the standpoint that if I don’t mess up, I get a glass of wine. It gives me permission to reward myself. Also, it prevents me from pushing things off to the evening hours which I tend to do. Doing Weight Watchers I have learned that rewards are a great motivator for me.
I think I am up for this challenge. Are you? Are you a procrastinator??
Here is my plan:
- Plan three important tasks at 4pm each day for the following day.
- Accomplish these three things before lunch time taking only 10 minute breaks as necessary to check email, the community and other social media related outlets (work accounts only).
- Spend the afternoon hours after lunch working to address issues which came up over email and plan for the following day.
- Clean up my workspace at the end of each day.
Take a few minutes and read Leo’s post over at Zen Habits. I enjoy his posts because they make me really think about how I can incorporate these ideal states into my every day life. We’ll see. I’m a work in progress.