Monday, July 08, 2013

Step On It: Procrastination & Distractions

We are in the middle of summer break now and I don't know about you but with the kids at home, the nice weather outside, and to top it off a trip to the library and bunch of new books to read; my attention is not staying on the proper task at end. Distractions are abundant and I'm procrastinating my little heart out.

So I decided for this blog to research ways to keep on track and to share it on here for my fellow procrastinators. Here are the keys I've come across.

1. Set Achievable Goals: Take the to do list, if you don't have one put together yet, create your to do list. Now break it down. For example on my list I have do the bookkeeping for the Inc's and the farm, To break it down I can have for different task; sort the receipts, sort the invoice, scan bank statements, etc. Now focus on the daily task. You can only work one day at a time.

2. Attain Solid Focus: Set a specific amount of time for a task, small enough that it can be accomplish without stopping. Before you do this, make sure everything else that could interrupt is taken care of. In my case that would be to make sure that my kids are fed (if near meal time) and entertained and that the kitten is also fed. Then go at it. For example, I could say for the next 60 minutes I will work on the research for my next post on this blog. Have a specific schedule, include break times.

3. Proper Motivation: Once works fall in priority it can become a chore, and we lose interest altogether. You can try to keep yourself interested by challenging new ideas for your work. But some important task are simply boring to do, but they still need to be done. In that case try to find motivation to complete a task that is uninspiring by setting up a reward after it is accomplish. For example, after I finish sorting through all the receipts I will ... read the next chapter in my book... have a snack... play a quick game on the computer. Whatever it is that will motivate you.

4. Get Plenty Of Sleep: If you are running on no sleep, distraction will seem more soothing for the tired mind. Being sleepy is it's own form of distraction. You will not be able to stay focus and on task if your eyes keep closing. When you know you have a day that you want to dedicate to work, turn in early the night before.

5. Unplug: Stay offline. There is nothing more distracting then facebook and email. Mostly since they beep at you to get your attention. It is amazing the amount of time that can be lost checking status updates. It's not enough to simply say "I just won't check it for a little while". Close the window, you can sign on again when the task is completed. In fact that could be your reward for motivation.

6. Share Your Progress: One way to keep yourself focused and highly motivated to complete your task if to commit to sharing your progress with others. Do this with someone who is doing the same thing as you so you can report to each other. You wouldn't want to have nothing to report. Also keep your crossed off to do list. Then you have the visual of your accomplishment as you cross something off your list. It's highly rewarding to draw a line across something that is finally done. And the list doesn't lie. Now I spotted my husband to do list once and the first thing he crossed off was "Write Down To Do List". :)

7. Isolation: Cut off the distractions. Sometimes it's from yourself with lack of focus, sometimes it's the other things you would rather be doing but when the distraction are coming from other people trying to get your attention or just catching your attention, isolation is key. Close the door to your office, put up a sign that says "do not disturb" or "disturb for emergency only". That is what I do with my kids, once I know all their immediate needs are taken care of I explain that I need to work and will be closing my door. They are not to open it unless then for an emergency. It will take a few tries to understand what is considered an emergency but overall they seem to get it. If isolating yourself in an office is not a possibility I would recommend you do it with headphones. Play something that is not too engaging, something that is easy listening. If you find yourself signing along or getting up to dance, it's not the right selection.

I invite you to start implementing these tips along with me and see if we can get our daily To Do lists cleared up.