Productivity versus procrastination is the ever-present angel and devil on our shoulders. The one voice in your head telling you that you should be more productive, and the other voice whispering devilishly to go ahead and watch another episode of your favorite show, that task can wait. But procrastination doesn’t always have to be a negative thing, despite its bad rap. In fact, there are ways you can use it to your advantage!
John Perry, an emeritus philosophy professor at Stanford, proposed an idea in 1995 called structured procrastination. His belief was that people who procrastinate are still doing useful things—they just need to learn how to be intentional about the little things they do to put off larger tasks. He argued that by putting structure around everything you do, important or not, you could trick your mind into getting the larger tasks done.
Let’s explore 7 simple ways you can utilize structured procrastination to turn procrastination into productivity.
- Put Off Morning Tasks by Time Blocking
If you aren’t a “morning person”, it can be hard to get started in the morning, especially if you start your day early. Instead of diving into a larger task right away, try doing some time blocking as your first small task. Time blocking is blocking off time on your calendar for all your tasks, even breaks! It helps you to structure your day, so you know exactly what to work on in a given time block, so you don’t need to waste your mental energy thinking of what to do next.
Your time-blocked calendar could look like:
- 6:00am to 6:30am – Work out
- 6:30am to 7:00am – Shower
- 7:00am to 7:30am – Coffee and light breakfast
- 7:30am to 8:00am – Time block calendar
- 8:00am to 9:00am – Make prospecting calls
- 9:00am to 9:15am – Prep for client meeting
- 9:15am to 10:15am – Client meeting
- 10:15am to 10:30am – Finish any actions from client meeting
- 10:30am to 11:00am – Respond to emails
- 11:00am – 12:00pm – Make prospecting calls
- 12:00pm – 12:30pm – Eat Lunch
- Etc. for the rest of your day
Having a laundry list of to-dos can be overwhelming, so setting aside a specific time for each activity takes away the burden of deciding when to do that task and makes you more intentional with how you utilize your valuable time.
For more on time blocking, check out an article I wrote by going to https://bit.ly/Time_Blocking.
- Break a Larger Project Down into Smaller Tasks
As you’re blocking time on your calendar, you can break larger projects down into smaller tasks which makes them much easier to do and you feel like you are making good progress on your list of activities that need to be done. Let’s say you’re launching a new website and need to put final touches on it before you can launch today. The larger project is “launch a new website,” and smaller tasks could be giving the copy a final overview, making sure all images have alt tags for accessibility, double-checking that the DNS is set up for launch, reviewing the marketing email that is going out to clients and prospects, etc.
With each small task you accomplish, you get closer to completing the larger project!
- Tackle the Simplest Tasks First
Tackling easier tasks first can help give you a sense of accomplishment, which will carry over to larger tasks. When you complete a simple task, that can lead to a flood of dopamine that will make you want to repeat the behavior.
There’s also a satisfaction that comes from checking off items from your to-do list, so if you give yourself easy things to check off, you may not be as likely to push off future tasks. However, don’t put off the other tasks that make not be as easy because you are only doing the easier ones.
- Delegate Tasks to Others
The beauty of having a team around you is being surrounded by people with differing strengths. There may be tasks on your list that you’re not looking forward to because you don’t enjoy them, and you’re not great at them. Instead of trying to get good enough to complete the task, learn to delegate all those tasks you aren’t good at and don’t enjoy it to a member of your team.
In fact, by doing so, you’ll be doing TWO things at once—the task will get done, and you’ll get invaluable practice as a business owner trusting others to get the job done.
To help you be even more effective and efficient, so you can achieve your goals at an accelerated rate, you can delegate more to your team members than you have or might think possible. Stop holding on to things that can be done by someone else and do only those activities that you can do and can’t be done by anyone else. Stop doing revenue generation / business development avoidance activities and delegate more! Successful people are excellent delegators, so work at being an even better delegator and be even more successful. Download my Free Delegation Exercise to help you identify more even activities to delegate, by going to https://www.accountabilitycoach.com/delegation-list-sample/.
- Set Aside Time for Inspiration
There’s a misconception that being productive means churning out tangible tasks. Letting your mind have creative space can not only motivate you to work on your to-do list, it’s also vital as you lead the vision for your company.
You may be someone who waits for inspiration to strike you, and that’s totally fine! But it’s also good to get into the practice of setting aside time to be intentional about being inspired. That might mean listening to podcasts (like The Accountability Minute or The Accountability Coach), reading business books or self-growth books, doing yoga, meditating, visualizing, or even going for a long nature walk. Another advantage of inspiration time is that you will come back feeling more refreshed and ready to attack the next task on your to-do list!
- Mix in Different Types of Tasks Throughout the Day
Some people do better focusing on one activity during the day, but you may do better mixing in different types of tasks. Work on one task for an hour, and then switch to another one. You could respond to emails first, and then take some time to work on a passion project or task that interests you more than emails. Or if you work from home, you can clean in between getting work done.
You’ll still be productive, but in different ways. If you see doing your chores or running a much-needed errand as a “break” from work, you’ll be twice as productive because you’re still knocking things off your to-do list. Typically, to be the most productive you want to do as many similar or like activities as possible in a row.
- Set Up Automated Systems
The more you can automate, the less time you have to spend doing the same menial task over and over. While it may take some time up front getting a system set up, you’ll be much more efficient and productive as a result.
For example, if you are spending time sending emails each time a potential client comes from your site, you can automate the task by creating email templates and just tweaking it a little each time, or by setting up welcome workflows in an email marketing platform.
Moving from procrastination to productivity often takes a shift in mindset. Embrace procrastination as part of your process and use these 7 tips to turn procrastination into productivity. Whether you’re starting your day with time blocking, completing smaller tasks as part of a larger project, delegating tasks to others, or setting up streamlined systems, you can overcome procrastination to become a much more productive entrepreneur.
For more help on dealing with procrastination, so you can create your ideal business and ideal life, reach out to me today and schedule your complimentary consultation.
To download my complimentary Guide to Stopping Procrastination, Helping You Create Your Ideal Business and Ideal Life, go to https://www.accountabilitycoach.com/stop-procrastination.
Do you feel like your business has plateaued or you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? Could you use a shot in the arm to make even more progress on your goals? Consider working with The Accountability Coach. I’m here to help you accelerate your results, so you can enjoy your ideal business and ideal life!
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