It’s time to wrap it up with a summary. I will also offer a bonus tip that, while it may not be necessary, certainly helps gather the strength and energy to stay productive.
But let’s start with a summary.
Getting organized and stopping procrastination boils down to three key parts:
- Collect. Retrieve and store incoming information in a system you are comfortable with. The system should be as simple as possible while still being able to collect all the stuff coming your way.
- Process. Once you have the data in a system, you need to process it. This is not a one-time task: it needs to be done continuously. It is best done at different levels and intervals. You probably want to go over the things closest at hand daily, and also check your email and so on for new input. Weekly, perhaps, it is wise to process new, and review existing, information.
- Focus. To work efficiently you need to be able to focus on the task at hand. This means minimizing interruptions and stopping procrastination. It also means taking deliberate breaks regularly to regain energy and clear the mind.
Where to start depends on the kind of work, and is situation-dependent.
If you mainly work on a few big tasks or, for example, in a development team, and you feel the problem is mostly related to interruptions, whether they are internal or external, it is more worthwhile to start looking at how to improve the ability to focus.
If you have a lot of projects going on and procrastinate because you don’t know where to start, it may be a better strategy to start top-down and collect all the information and figure out the next steps for each project. Then try to get the ball moving by picking off one actionable item at a time.
I’ve summarized the process in the graphics below. Click on it for a larger view.
The Bonus Tip
Chances are you’re not going to like this.
There is one infallible way to be more productive and efficient. In addition, it will give you years of extra time doing stuff.
Running has at least two strong arguments going for it:
- One study has shown that the sedentary work most of us do in front of computers is as harmful as smoking (you knew smoking was bad, didn’t you?)
- Another study showed that running adds an extra six years to your life. You will also stay healthier longer.
Now, here’s something where many of us shine when it comes to procrastination!
“I think I’m about to get a cold.”
“I don’t have the time tonight.”
“I’ll start next week.”
If you don’t already exercise, make it your first goal. You don’t have to pick up running, but doing some kind of regular exercise will give you the energy to face other things you want to do.