Procrastination: a concept we all love and hate. As soon as an important task presents itself, we suddenly see a plethora of things around us we could do instead. I sometimes look back on a day with disappointment, when I feel like I’ve worked all day, but barely got anything done. This feeling is a wonderful indicator of having spent most of the day procrastinating and wasting time. Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to spend your day in a more productive way and stop wasting time. I’m going to share some of my favourite tips on that with you today!
My biggest pitfall. I often use social media being a part of my job as an excuse to spend hours on these websites/apps, doing completely work-unrelated stuff. It’s ridiculous how often I’ll check Instagram in a day, even though I usually only “need” to go on there to post a photo once a day. In fact, a few weeks back I installed an app tracker on my phone which tells me exactly how much time I spend using each app, and how often I open it in a day. Turns out I visit Instagram up to 36 times a day. There’s no way I can justify that.
Getting this app (I use Qualitytime, but there are several options out there) has really helped open my eyes and make me realise how much time I actually spend on social media, not even counting the times I refresh Facebook on my computer. Knowing that social media is a problem for me, I can take specific measures to stop myself from wasting time on there. The Qualitytime app allows me to block certain apps for a certain amount of time, so that I can’t open them during work hours, for example. I’ve made an agreement with myself to close the YouTube tab in my browser when I’m working, so that I don’t get tempted to check comments all the time and watch a bunch of clickbait videos. I get to open YouTube when I’m having food breaks, and before and after work hours.
Another way I limit my social media use during the day, is by scheduling important posts in advance. I use Buffer to bulk schedule alerts to new videos and blog posts, so that I know they’ll go up at the right time and I won’t have to stop what I’m doing to share a link several times a day.
Of course I also have to mention the most obvious solution to social media time wasting: turn off all push notifications from social media on your phone so you won’t get tempted to open five apps every time you check the time on your phone.
Another task that can take up a lot of time and distract from more important things, is answering emails. Answering one email takes an average of 10 minutes, and completely takes you out of focus from whatever you were doing before. Spread 10 emails across a work day, and you’ll lose an incredible amount of time thinking of answers and trying to get back into focus. This can be easily fixed: answer emails at one or two set moments in your day. This can be at the start of your work day or at the very end, or both. I personally tend to answer my emails around lunchtime, so that I can get at least one higher priority task done before I get started on emails, but still give the recipients time to answer my emails on the same day.
Know Your Rythm
This is hands down the most important thing you can do to boost your productivity and kill procrastination: know at what time of day you’re most capable of being productive and focused, and plan the most important task of the day for that moment. For me, that’s the morning. Around two in the afternoon I start to lose focus and it all goes downhill from there, so I always try to finish my most difficult task in the morning. That way, when I do fall prey to procrastination in the later hours, I’ll know I’ve already finished my main task of the day and the whole day isn’t wasted.
One Thing At A Time
Many people think they can multitask quite well (including me), but in fact very few can. Multitasking generally lowers the quality of your work and ups your stress levels, which is a vicious cycle. Try to focus on only one task at a time, and do so for a limited amount of time. Alternate between different types of tasks to keep your mind refreshed, and schedule short breaks at least every two hours.
What’s the biggest way you tend to waste time?