End Procrastination Now
Due tomorrow, do tomorrow. Isn’t this a familiar practice!
It’s easy to lose track of what you have to do. The day is full of things you need to accomplish, and usually your attention wanders elsewhere – Facebook, Twitter, BuzzFeed, and let’s not start with the television. But before you start cursing social media and the boob tube, take a little time to re-assess your daily work habits, noting these simple reminders.
Mind the Time
Multi-taskers argue that doing three or four things at once saves time. In reality, you’re just using twice the brain power to produce half the results. Doing one thing at a time proves to be more efficient, since you can focus your energy on that particular task.
Set a deadline for yourself and monitor how much time each task takes. Hubstaff allows you to not only monitor your time usage, but it shows you (with a pretty graph), just how efficiently you’re using your time.
Close Unrelated Tabs
Spreadsheets and reports might need a little research, but anything other than resource pages should be closed. Install a browser app called StayFocusd that limits the time you spend on websites of your choice (e.g. Facebook or Imgur) and blocks them once you’ve used up the allotted time.
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” – Mark Twain
Create a Task List and Calendar
Google calendar allows you to schedule your day by the hour. There are also other browser apps such as Remember The Milk and SpringPad. These tools are especially useful if, like me, you rotate between a few different computers while working. One feature I like about these is that you can check the tick boxes or cross out the tasks that you’ve finished. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Your workspace is the first thing you see when you take your eyes off the monitor. It’s hard to stay focused when piles of paper threaten to engulf your laptop. Create 3 stacks and use dividers to keep them neatly organized – one for ongoing tasks, one for future projects, and a last one for proposals and ideas. Paperwork from finished projects should be bound together and placed on shelves. This psychologically motivates you to add more to that collection.
The same thing applies to your desktop. I like to keep mine clean, with only the Recycle Bin, My Documents, and Downloads folders on the screen. Besides, what’s the use of having a background if it’s hidden behind thumbnails, files, and folders? Speaking of folders, keep them organized. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to place files in folders they belong to. This saves you the trouble of having to search your entire computer when you need them at a moment’s notice.
“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin
Answer E-mails Immediately
When an e-mail from your colleague pops up, don’t set it aside to read later. Otherwise you’ll soon forget about it as other work piles up. Once you’ve answered your e-mails, flag them if you need to review them later or put them in the folders and categories they correspond to. This takes about 5 minutes of your time, after which you can return to the rest of your work.
Keep Things Quiet
Turn off the television and the radio. Chances are if you see or hear something that interests you, you’ll stop whatever you’re doing and watch or listen. If you must work with a little white noise, keep it at a volume where words are inaudible. If you can’t work without music, stick to tracks without lyrics. Singing takes the focus away from the task at hand and diverts your attention to the words and rhythm.
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
These work habits need quite some time to get used to, but I’m pretty sure you’ll find it easier to be more productive and efficient with the help of online tools and applications that are available.
How do you cut through the clutter and get down to business? Tell us any tips we’re missing!