Deadline tomorrow morning? Let’s spend four hours watching Archer. Paperwork to be filed? Boy, this desk looks messy! Meeting someone for coffee at 10am, fifteen minutes away? I’ll leave at 10am because I hate the walk.
The ability to turn simple tasks into efforts of biblical proportion is by no means rare to any of us. But here’s the thing… being proud of procrastination is also a crutch used by those who don’t want to get things done.
So if you’re part of this Procrastination Pride Party, please close this window and settle in on the couch for 30 minutes of Family Guy. The rest of us will carry on without you and explore how restrictions can help you get things done – fast.
How Hard Restrictions Can Set You Free
Humans want to be free and ultimately have no restrictions placed on them. The irony is that it’s the restrictions that we work in that take us from procrastination to productivity. The right restrictions will help us to get things done an make things happen. The problem is identifying them and understanding them.
Now, you mightn’t be aware of this but there’s two types of restrictions that can be a part of your life – soft restrictions and hard restrictions.
Soft restrictions are the ones that are easy to ignore (finish this document later today, call someone later) and ultimately can be judoed or manipulated into having entirely different meetings. Hard restrictions, on the other hand, are unavoidable (finishing your work before the battery dies, calling someone at 3pm), and force you into a yes or no outcome. As you’ve already guessed, hard restrictions are the ones that will help you to be the most productive.
Here’s just a few hard restriction techniques you can apply to your own daily life:
- Charge your laptop over night, and then work somewhere without a power cable. You won’t have time to check email 16 times unless it’s necessary, and Facebook won’t even get a look in.
- Schedule your days, hour by hour, including meetings and outcomes to be achieved. Hard restrictions on time, back to back, mean that you don’t have flexibility and are forced to perform.
- Limit your options. If you want to overcome your ADHD with diet, then throw all the crap out of your cupboard and stock it with only healthy options. It’s easier to control your environment than it is to control your behavior.
Steps For A Better Tomorrow: Action Against Distraction
Chances are that you’ve got a To-Do list looming over your head for tomorrow. There’s things to be done, people to speak to and places to go. However there’s also an interconnected world of Facebook, TV, the internet and phon ecalls that you’re going to have to contend with. But as they say, forewarned is forearmed – so let’s do some damage to our procrastinating habits.
- On a blank piece of paper, list down the top three things that you must achieve tomorrow across the top. Nothing else – just the things that would make your day worth while if they were all that you got done.
- Beneath each one, write down precisely what you need to achieve it.
- Again, beneath each one, write down the possible distractions and procrastination enablers you may have to battle with in the process of getting each done.
- Finally, write down actions you can take in advance to overcome the procrastination enablers you’ve listed.
By now you should have a page of three columns with detailed insight into what you need to get things done, and what’ll stop you. Now, you have only two more things to do:
- Follow each of the actions that you’ve already outlined in step 4. TV going to distract you? Unplug it. Phone going to interrupt your flow? Turn it off. Take control of every possible distraction you can, and disable it.
- Tomorrow, follow the plan you’ve outlined for yourself. Don’t improvise, don’t alter tact – just remain focused on the outcomes you’re working towards, ruthlessly eliminating anything that gets in the way and restricting your distractions.
Every step that you take towards getting things done is a step that you didn’t waste in avoidance techniques. What other actions could you take to be more productive?