It’s sinisterly simple to brush away daunting tasks with frivolous thumb swipes but undeniably we become overwhelmed with guilt as the tasks that step stone us towards our dreams remain neglected.
Are you procrastinating by reading this article? Fantastic, let’s get started.
We’re all prone to procrastination in this hyper connected digital landscape we now find ourselves in. Advertisers and social media platforms continue to evolve their tactics in order to further harvest our attention and a quick glimpse inside any commercial coffee shop seems to display my dismay through countless drooping heads. The average smartphone user now checks their device up to 150 times a day and our attention spans have dropped to just 8 seconds – that’s one second less than a goldfish.
It’s sinisterly simple to brush away daunting tasks with frivolous thumb swipes but undeniably we become overwhelmed with guilt as the tasks that step stone us towards our dreams remain neglected. After recently catching myself consumed by these weapons of mass distraction, scrolling Facebook’s feed of ever irrelevant auto-playing videos I decided to take more drastic action. Subsequently I’ve read countless productivity tips and relevant books and finally managed to almost entirely eliminate bad browsing habits. Here’s five simple but potent productivity tips I’ve used to crush procrastination and become more constructive:
1. Procrastination Paralysing Post-it Note
Stick a Post-it-note on your computer that says ‘Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important.’ Watch how your peripheral vision can’t help but occasionally glance at the luminous yellow words of wisdom that have very often stopped me in my unproductive tracks. Simple and effective.
2. Make your browsing habits inescapable
Welcome the Rescue Time app, there’s no escaping your computer habits when this app compiles them for you. It’s incredibly accurate at categorising your activities, and you can set helpful pop-up alerts that warn and congratulate you on your progress. For example, I have a pop up that confirms when I spend ‘four hours on productive work’ and a warning pop up if I spend more than 15 minutes on distracting tasks – most commonly Reddit. There’s even a ‘get focused’ button for premium members that temporarily blocks all distracting sites for a user set period. Check it out here.
3. The NOT To-Do List
Try writing both a To-Do list and a NOT To-Do list for the following day before you finish work. Commonly described as a Mind dump’. Turn all untended thoughts into an actionable and preferably prioritised task list for the following day. Allowing you to not only arrive more organised the following morning, but also inviting rest assured closure for the day so you can return home to relax more mindfully that evening.
Not To-Do lists, set surprisingly powerful boundaries into the subconscious and in my experience have been more effective than a regular task list. We all know what we’re doing wrong, increased awareness of these tends to fuse out the distracting thoughts before you’ve loaded up a feed full of click bait.
4. Crush inaction with physical activity
Whenever you are feeling demotivated give this a shot, step away from the desk, ask Siri to set a 10-minute timer and give this short workout a try. You’ll be surprised at how much of a push up in moral and motivation as few push-ups can promote.
5. Don’t break the chain
Create streaks by tracking the subsequent days you complete daily tasks. Bitesize improvements soon accumulate into large improvements rapidly as each successful day begins to serve as their own motivation. A powerful psychological technique that I’ve used to create daily habits like meditation and consistent reading. Some handy apps that simplify this process are Lift for smartphones and Chains for desktops. Below I’ll outline a way to incorporate these into an actionable experiment.
Stop Skimming and take action
The One Week Trial. 30 minute setup – 20 minutes per day.
Admittedly I knew these techniques for months before I suffered enough inaction that forced me to try them out, so, if you are in a similar situation I implore you to try this out.
1. Create the Post-it Note and place it somewhere visible. If you don’t have any try setting hourly alarms with the same ‘Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important.’ caption.
2. Download the trial of Rescue Time and set some productivity goals.
3. Download Lift from the App store and add the following to complete each day:
– Review Rescue Time Browsing Habits
– Write To-Do and NOT To-Do Lists for following day
– 10 minutes of exercise
– Custom daily habit e.g. meditation or drinking more water.
Review and adjust your not to do lists as the week goes on and unconstructive browsing habits come to light. Then let me know how you get on in the comments below, I’d love to hear your experience.
“I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance.” – Rubén Blades