Tons of time management strategies have been developed over the years by hundreds of people to help you get more done in less time.
Here are 8 of my favorite task management tips to help you stop procrastinating in your work and personal life.
Think about which one of these ideas could be most helpful to you right now, in your current situation.
1. Manage and organize your tasks on paper
Prepare thoroughly if you want to get things done. List every step of the job in advance. Break the job down into its constituent parts before you begin. Simply writing out every detail and thoroughly preparing in advance will help you to stop procrastinating.
2. Fully prepare for each task
Second, come fully prepared for each task you work on.
When you sit down to work or to begin a task, make sure that you have everything on hand so that you won’t have to get up or move until the task is done. Being fully prepared is a powerful motivator for staying with the task until it is finished.
3. Take small steps to manage your tasks
The 80/20 rule says that 20 percent of the task often accounts for 80 percent of the value of that task. This is probably what Confucius meant when he said that, ‘‘A journey of 1,000 leagues begins with a single step.’’
Once you have taken even one small step to start the job, you will often find yourself continuing on with the task to completion.
4. “Salami slice’’ your tasks
Just as you would never try to eat a whole loaf of salami at once, don’t try to take on all of a job from the start. Sometimes the best way to stop procrastinating and complete a major job is to take a small slice and complete just that piece, just as you would take a single slice of salami and eat it.
When you select a small piece of the task and then discipline yourself to do it and get it behind you, it will often give you the momentum you need to counter inertia and stop procrastinating.
Break a big task down into small parts that can be accomplished in a small amount of time. (Photo: iStock)
5. Select a 5-minute task and start there
Just as a block of Swiss cheese is full of holes, you treat your task like a block of cheese and you punch holes in it.
Select a five-minute part of the job and do only that. Don’t worry about the whole job.
For example, if you want to write an article or a book, break the task down into small pieces that take an identifiable amount of time to complete and do just one small piece at a time whenever you get a chance.
Many authors begin by writing one page a day. If you are doing research, you can read one article per sitting. Many people write complete books on airplanes or complete their college degrees with snatches of time between other activities. If you wrote one page a day for a year, you would have a 365-page book by the end of the year.
6. Do the task that causes you the most fear or anxiety
Often, it has to do with overcoming the fear of failure or rejection by someone else.
In sales, it may be associated with prospecting. In management, it may be associated with disciplining or firing an employee. In relationships, this may have to do with confronting an unhappy personal situation.
In every case, you will be more effective if you deal first with whatever is causing you the greatest emotional distress or fear. Often this will break the logjam in your work and free you up mentally and emotionally to get things done.
7. Start your day with the most unpleasant task first
Get it over with and behind you. Everything else for the rest of the day will seem easier in comparison.
A recent study compared two groups of people. One group started an exercise program in the morning. The second group started an exercise program in the evenings after work. The researchers found that the morning exercisers were much more likely to still be in the program six months later.
Starting the day with exercise was much more likely to lead to the habit of regular exercise than putting it off until the end of the day when it was easier to make excuses and procrastinate.
8. Think about the negative consequences if you don’t finish
What will happen to you if this job is not done on schedule?
Both fear and desire are great motivators of human behavior. Sometimes you can motivate yourself by the desire for the rewards of task completion. Sometimes you can motivate yourself into action by thinking about the negative consequences and what will happen to you if do not get things done as promised.
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