I find myself questioning my priorities a lot, partly because procrastination is one of my favorite hobbies. There is nothing like watching the pile of work sit on my desk while I watch ‘Orange Is the New Black’ for the sixth time on my bed. By episode 3, I often start the questioning: ‘What am I doing? I should be productive right now’. The guilt trip is horrible to say the least, and is often followed up by thirty minutes browsing ways to be more productive and apps to keep track of my shit.
Distractions are real, but even more present is our indisposition to tackle what is ahead. Fear freezes minds and hands (or so I’ve experienced). The mere thought of writing a 6-page essay on The Other Boleyn Girl gets me paranoid, and so when my to-do list reminds me of it, I enter denial.
“Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life”, says Harah Estroff Marano in a piece for Psychology Today. The fact is that we all practice a form of procrastination thinking that we will be more productive working under pressure. But, we are not.
Still, there is time to change that. And while we might feel buried alive under our tasks, there is a way out. You’ll see. Here are 10 tips for a more productive day.
- Plan your day. Schedule each appointment, meeting or task at hand.
- Take a break. Binge-working is not productive. Take time to ease your mind, breathe and recharge.
- Put on your headphones (and don’t listen to anything). Headphones are the official ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign at work, according to a recent New York Times articles. If you work at a postmodern office, where headphones are acceptable, take advantage of their significance.
- Put on your armor. Fashion is not necessarily about comfort, but rather reflecting your best self. Still, there is a fine line between presentable and comfortable that can work out in favor of your productivity. Feel good, do good.
- Meetings are not a social hour. Yes, gossiping with co-workers is fun, but you know what feels better? Getting shit done. Prepare before a meeting and have a plan of talking points. Don’t waste your time of gossiping over a stupid meeting.
- Tackle daily tasks first. Everyone has the dailies; those tasks that are easy, fast and essential to the flow of your team. For me is checking social media links from the day before, monitor comments and archive the URLs. Cross the tedious tasks before anything else.
- Reward thyself. It might me coffee or cupcakes, but don’t allow yourself to take either if you don’t finish X-amount of tasks before. It’s a proven method.
- Define work zones. Many people (myself included) can’t work in bed or at a crowded place. Find a place where you feel comfortable to get in your zone. And if you have no option but to stay in your desk, make it as decluttered and cozy as possible.
- Calendarize that shit. The Mayans had one thing clear: calendars work. Our memory is disturbed by the multiple tasks that require our attention, so writing things down and staying on schedule, whether on paper or digital, is a surefire way to never miss another task or appointment.
- Rely on one method of organization. I have friends who like Post-Its, while others prefer planners. I love iCalendar. So, whatever method you choose, make it personal and adjust it to your preferences and work style.