We’ve all had those days where we don’t get as much done as we should have, and are left feeling like we’ve wasted a day. When you have to do lists as long as your arm, this isn’t always an option. For many this has a lot to do with procrastination, and although there are many factors that contribute to a lack of concentration, a good routine can help tenfold with time management.
The night before:
Setting things up for the following day saves heaps of time in the morning, and removes any temptations to delay starting work in the morning. Whether you work from home or in an office, take ten minutes at the end of the day to make sure you are ready to go as soon as you sit down.
Try planning and preparing your meals the night before, and take a bottle of water with you to the office to keep refilling during the day.
Write a list of everything you need to do the next morning, and split it into work and personal. Then get as many of the personal tasks done there and then. This will remove any distractions the following day.
When you have sat down to work, take your to do list and allocate time for each task, making sure a five minute task doesn’t take twenty.
If you lose concentration easily, make sure you schedule regular breaks, and get up to stretch your legs every hour or so. This will reduce your temptations to waste twenty minutes ‘checking’ Twitter.
As the morning goes on and things come in, add them to your afternoon to do list. Unless it is urgent, don’t let it distract you from what’s already on your list.
Make sure that you have a good lunch, nothing is more distracting than hunger! Use this time to get your head out of work, and take a proper break. If you are someone that likes to sit by your desk, check the personal section of your list, and see if you can cross anything off. If you like to go out, then leave your phone in the office to avoid answering any emails etc.
After lunch, go through your list and allocate time to each task. Get the more pressing tasks done first, that way if things build up, and you can’t get everything done, you won’t be left feeling guilty.
If you tend to lose concentration half way through the afternoon, then take a break, have a snack, or get some fresh air. This will help to wake you up, and give you the boost you need to get through.
If you work from home, give yourself a cut off point. Not only is separating work and home important, but having something to work towards will help you push through and get everything done.
Tips from an expert procrastinator:
Spread your short tasks out – putting them all on one day will lead you to drag them out, and most likely not get them done. Wedging them between bigger tasks will make them seem as easy as refilling your water. Alternatively, if you have an afternoon off, use it as motivation and plan to get them all done in the morning.
Have two web pages open, one for distractions, and one for work. If you have a mac, create a second desktop. This will make you actively aware when you go to ‘check’ Twitter etc, and should stop you from doing it so much!
Pay attention to how much water you drink, and what you are eating. Sometimes we loose concentration because we are dehydrated, hungry, or are simply eating the wrong thing!
If you are more productive in the evening, take time in the morning to do any personal things you would normally do in the evening. There is no point in working from 9am-7pm, if you aren’t going to get anything done for the first two hours.