“Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
— Denis Waitley
Procrastination is the worst enemy of productivity.
And we all agree on that.
But, what is procrastination?
Well, it’s very simple. And I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
Procrastination is that little voice in your head that gives you excuses such as:
“I don’t really need to do it now”
“Maybe I don’t need to do it at all”
“If I skip this task, it’s not the end of the world”
“I can postpone it to next week”
“It’s important to rest now in order to have more energy later”
“I think it’s not worth a try”
“I don’t have enough time”
“Successful people are just lucky”
“Successful people were born rich, so I will never be like them”
“I skip class just for today”
“I still have time to finish the project I’m working on, today I can rest”
“I will start working out next week.”
You have two choices: You can listen to your little voice, or ignore it.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
— Pablo Picasso
I’m sure you can imagine the negative impact that this little voice can have on your productivity, if you listen to it.
The secret is to recognize it and consciously ignore it. It’s not easy, I know, but it’s possible.
At this point you may want to know how to do that. It’s something manageable, all you have to do is learning to “detect” this wrong behavior and act by doing something immediately.
Every time your mind tries to make you procrastinate using one of the mentioned excuses, you should take your to-do list and focus on one task.
Write down everything
“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.”
— Shunryu Suzuki
If you want to get everything done and well, you can’t keep too much information in your mind, because this will make you feel tired, and overwhelmed by stress and frustration.
As you probably know, you need a to-do list, where you can write down all the task you have to complete throughout the day, and a page where you will write down every day all the ideas and goals that you intend to reach in the near future. Let’s call it “the silver page.”
The following step is to analyse the silver page and “bring items to reality.”
Write next to each goal or task how you intend to get it done. Ask yourself these 3 questions: “When?”, “Where?”, “When is the deadline?”, “Don I need help?”, “How long will it take?”, “What is the first step I have to take?”, “Is it important?”.
Remember to update your silver page frequently, at least once a week. And update it every time something comes to your mind.
Once the silver page is clearly written, put the items in a priority order. Here’s an example:
A: Take the GMAT test
B: Apply for job at X
C: Application for new passport
D: Take 10 tennis classes
Transfer every day one or two actions from the silver page items to the to-do list. Some examples:
– Take appointment with GMAT private tutor,
– 1 Hour exercising for GMAT test,
– Call tennis club and take appointment for first lesson,
– Writing resume,
– Write cover letter,
– Take pictures for passport application.
If you are this well-organized, and everything is written down on your to-do list and silver page, it will be much easier to avoid procrastination and get your things done.
The key is being always organized, knowing what to do and when to do it.
Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
-- Paul J. Meyer
As we said, being productive is not easy, and it's not for everyone, but there some more ways to learn to get things done and to avoid procrastination. We mentioned the importance of some very useful tools such as the silver page and the to-do list, but there is more.
Each minute is a little thing, and yet, with respect to our personal productivity, to manage the minute is the secret of success.
-- Joseph B. Wirthlin
Do't Do List
Power is the ability to get things done.
-- Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Have you ever thought about writing a don't do-list?
As its name suggests, it's a list where you write all the things you shouldn't do during your day.
- Don't use Whatsapp from 8 am until noon.
- Don't use Facebook before 6 pm.
- Don't watch TV before dinner.
- Don't use Instagram before 6 pm.
- Don't use Twitter before 6 pm.
It's a very useful and powerful tool for your productivity, that combined with all the good habits mentioned in this article will improve your time management avoiding wasting your time.
Golden Page? And what the heck is this now?
Very simple: you have to keep track of all the goals and results that you achieve.
First of all, make sure to use a paper or a computer file that you can easily find and access - the paper version has a stronger impact on the way you will feel after reading it, in other words it has a stronger impact on your self-esteem and motivation believe me. -
Next, write on it all your short-term and long-term accomplishments, and update it every time you reach a goal, whatever it is.
The Golden Page is among the best tools to always keep you motivated and determined.
Just try it and let me know.
Set A Timer
One of the best ways to be productive is focusing on what you're doing, avoiding distractions and without stopping.
And it's not a secret.
But this should be done following a precise method, which is focusing for a given period of time avoiding any kind of distractions - for example 25 minutes, 30 minutes or 45 minutes - and take a break of 5 to 8 minutes.
Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.
-- Franz Kafka