Yes, the festive holiday fun is over. No, you’re not ready for the reality of going to back to work. Yes, you’ll be daydreaming of just one more lazy day when you should be answering emails or starting your New Year’s project.
Yet rather than dwell on such thoughts and succumb to the urge to procrastinate your way through January, here are 7 top tips to help overcome the post-holiday blues and make sure your 2017 gets off to a great start.
1) IDENTIFY THE FIRST STEP
Procrastination occurs for a number of reasons, one of which is not knowing where to start. Coming back after a relatively long break such as the Christmas period, most likely with new and as-yet-untouched tasks awaiting you, it can often feel daunting to take the first step towards productivity and progress.
‘the trick here is to break down big, amorphous tasks into baby steps that don’t feel as effortful. Even better: identify the very smallest first step, something that’s so easy that even your present-biased brain can see that the benefits outweigh the costs of effort.’
2) PLAN AHEAD
Once you have taken that all important first step, taking time to assess the immediate demands of the task and to plan your time accordingly can help you to beat future procrastination and indecision every time you need to work on your project.
According to Time Magazine’s Motto, ‘if you get to your work desk and have no idea where to start, it can lead you to work on low-impact tasks (such as checking email) or other worse forms of procrastinating.’ To combat this, making a plan of action the night before can give you the time you need to reflect on what you have achieved so far, and allow you to hit the ground running the next morning.
3) MAKE A TIMELINE
Going beyond planning a day or two in advance, making a timeline for your task allows you to visualise the long term goals and milestones to hit along the way.
This technique is a favourite here at think, and a skill we teach in our Time Travel workshop. We encourage team members to work together to create a physical timeline – literally on the floor – so that they can then walk forwards in time and look over the issues and challenges that face them along the way.
Applying this technique to any project planning can bring great results, and is worthwhile learning if you are prone to procrastination.
4) TAILOR YOUR WORKING ENVIRONMENT
How often have you heard the advice that working at a cramped, cluttered, noisy desk in a grey office does nothing for your ability to focus, concentrate or be creative? Yet, have you ever acted on it?
For The Huffington Post, this is an important tool in the fight against procrastination. It is argued that ‘even if you do everything else right, working in the wrong environment can make you succumb to procrastination.’ Removing yourself from distractions, but also finding what environment works for you on a personal level, can work wonders for your focus and drive.
5) DO A POWER HOUR
Loder argues that ‘a Power Hour consists of putting away all distractions and working in concentrated chunks of time […] followed by short periods of rest, in order to harness the optimal performance of your brain and body.’ She suggests that by acknowledging your natural peaks and troughs of concentration and playing to their timings, you can maximise your output and confine your daydreaming and online shopping to break time.
6) DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A MISTAKE
Just as with any project, beating procrastination isn’t a linear task and allowing yourself to make mistakes and learn from them can be important advice to remember.
According to Business Insider, ‘the only way to overcome procrastination […] is to abandon perfectionism and not fuss over details as you move forward.’ It is suggested that ‘reminding yourself that there is almost always another chance to excel depressurises the moment,’ helping you to overcoming the paralysis that comes with striving for instant perfection.
7) LEARN TO SAY NO
Although it can be tempting to say yes to every exciting new project that comes along and to see multi-tasking as a chance to prove your diverse skill set and capacity for time management, learning to say no can be a revolutionary skill to learn.
For author and social media manager Erik Fisher, ‘only letting the tasks into your system that you know you want to do or absolutely have to do is the first step to making sure you don’t put them off.’ Although not everyone has the complete freedom to choose their tasks at work, Fisher’s advice that you should look at what your calendar and other commitments allow before jumping into a new task is sound for people of all career levels.
Rather than having a multitude of unfinished tasks strewn across your desk, completing each task at hand on time, with originality and confidence, is far more valuable to yourself and to your organisation.
Want more tips on how to break down your tasks and get the most out of your working day? Check out our full range of workshops here.
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