By Claire Billingsley
Fact: We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
Fact: Some people seem to be able to achieve more than others during that 24 hour time frame.
Procrastination is defined as,
“The action of delaying or postponing something,
especially something requiring immediate attention.”
However, in reality, it’s
“What can I do right now that is more fun than that thing that has been sitting on my desk all week (or longer) that I keep avoiding!?”
We are all too aware of our procrastination. Sometimes we just feel so overwhelmed it’s hard to even know where to begin. Procrastination affects productivity, self-esteem, and quality of life! It’s really a matter of letting things run us rather than running things that make the biggest impact for the goals we have set for ourselves – both personally and professionally.
So … cut yourself some slack, take a deep breath in and then breathe out slowly; it’s time for a plan.
Here’s a system I have used for years (thank you Day-Timer’s, Inc. for the tools and insight) with myself, the students I mentor, and the professionals I coach.
Step One: Determine Discretionary versus Non-Discretionary time available today.
Non-discretionary is time that is already committed to by dental appointments, meetings, lunch dates, book signings, yoga classes, networking events; things that are on the calendar. You are expected to be somewhere at a specific time. Don’t forget to calculate drive time. Non-Discretionary time will be reflected on your calendar.
Discretionary time is when we work on projects, write articles, pick up dry-cleaning, and watch TV etc.
Step Two: Make a list of all of the things you need to do that day.
Write down everything. Writing makes it more tangible. The average person can remember 7 things at the most! I know you have more than 7 things on your list!
Step Three: Prioritize each of them into 4 categories:
Urgent and Important
- Nice to do
- Total waste of time
Step Four: Assign priorities.
Urgent and Important gets assigned an “A” next to the item
Important gets assigned a “B” next to the item
Nice to do gets assigned a “C” next to the item
Total waste of time gets a “D” next to the item (I know; why even put this category in here? It’s to help you gain awareness of where you spend your time).
Step Five: Analyze each of you’re a priorities.
Assign a number to each. A-1 is the top, urgent, must do thing on your list. If you get nothing else done today, you MUST accomplish this item. A-2 is the next most urgent and important, all the way down the list.
Complete this for each of the items for your B, C and D items.
This gives you your ‘marching orders’ for the day. You know you have more than 7 things to get done, but now you don’t have to waste time trying to remember everything you need to do, and in which order to complete them, because it is right in front of you!
Mark off each item once you have accomplished them. This gives you a sense of accomplishment, and releases endorphins that are like a little reward system party that goes off in your brain that says “Good Job!”
Review your list during the day and readjust/re-prioritize when necessary.
If you have a big project due in a week, today it might be a “B’ priority. Next week on the day it’s due it will be you’re A-1 priority. If you know it’s a big project, and it will take some concentrated brain power, put it on your calendar and block out time daily (maybe an hour each day) to complete the task. Since it is on your calendar, it is Non-Discretionary, which means it is non-negotiable.
Make appointments for yourself and honor them. Don’t blow yourself off. You would never do that for a client; it feels awful to get blown off, and then all those good feelings from scratching off the things you did accomplish fades away. You can even do this for date night with your spouse or family night or night out – this can help you stay balanced, too.
Make your list the night before. Review what you were able to accomplish; carry over those things that you were not able to get to and re-prioritize for the next day. This way your brain can relax because you’ve already got your game plan together before you leave the office.
Don’t put this off! Start being proactive versus reactive today. Try it for a week, and then the next week, and the next week and see how much easier it gets every day. Your list will become more manageable, you will be more productive with your time, and your brain will be freed up to create that next great idea that will move your company even further ahead of the competition.
Claire Billingsley is an author, coach, mentor, Laughter Yoga Leader and radio show host. She uses improvisational comedy to help open lines of communication up for groups and organizations. Find more at billingsleyconsultinggroup.com