Procrastination. The enemy of productivity and a word that brings an instant frown to the face of many.
Benefiting from an unresourceful habit
We are taught from an early age not to “leave things ‘til the last minute.” The consequences that follow when we do are almost never good.
After wasting all that time, we get upset with ourselves for not completing the tasks on our to-do lists. Then, to make matters worse, extra time is consumed because we obsess about our inadequacies which can paralyze any further progress.
So here we are, yet again, allowing procrastination to get the best of us. It’s a vicious cycle.
A small shift in perspective can allow people to achieve what they need to accomplish in a shorter amount of time.
How is this even possible?
In short, a little bit of role reversal.. Instead of allowing procrastination to use up our time, we need to use procrastination to gain back our time. I like to call it ‘procrastinating procrastination’ or, delay procrastination. The approach used in executing this idea is simple.
Negotiating with procrastination
Apply these next few steps on the next task you wish to accomplish in record time:
1: Be aware of the average time needed to complete any task.
1a: Time can be measured with the timer app (already in your possession) on your phone or Toggl.com from a laptop.
2: Note the deadline already assigned to that task or, if you’re self-employed, attach a specific due date and time.
3: Schedule a time slot into your calendar, ending exactly at the time of deadline assigned. This time slot should be the average time needed to complete the task from Step 1.
3a: For example: Let’s say the submission process of a project ranges from 25-30 minutes to complete and the deadline chosen for this specific task is 4PM. Activity will be started at exactly 3:30PM, leaving you with no extra minutes to consume before or after the task.
4: Revisit step 3 and subtract 10-15 minutes from the allowable time to complete the task. As humans, often times we can reach that next level if we simply explore it. By cutting down time, we are using beneficial stress as a tactic for achieving more. To your surprise, you may even finish the task with minutes left to spare!
5: Execute. Get in the right state of mind to complete the task with no distractions and have a timer somewhere visible to maintain that sense of urgency.
5a: When I work on my laptop, I use an online timer to countdown the minutes and seconds I have left to completion.
This exercise has helped me understand how much time I spend doing what, and realize that there’s room to complete activities in even shorter amounts of time.
Each allocated minute of any task is now focused and work-driven. I’ve gained hours for personal projects and now have more time to just relax.
Now go ahead, try it out for yourself. And show procrastination that you’re in control, not the other way around.