We ALL do it…procrastinate. Despite all of our planning and list making and reminders and self-deprecation… we find ways to push off things that should be relatively easy to accomplish.
FULL DISCOSURE: This post has been in draft status since FEBRUARY (yes, you read that correctly) and I realized this morning that it was a perfect example of this phenomenon that is a byproduct of what happens to most of us. For me specifically: mom life, homestead life, new business startup life…. Well… ADULT LIFE.
The thing is, each project that gets put on a list has the best of intentions behind it. There are REAL reasons why these things need to get done, real benefits from doing them and very real obstacles from realizing them.
This is not a thinly veiled post, it is blunt.
We desperately need to figure out how to minimize this phenomenon so we can truly realize what our time is worth and what we are capable of!
This is a reality check for those of us with UNREALISTIC lists that seem, week over week, to grow into mountains threatening to crush us… our spirit, our motivation… our TIME.
What is the #1 reason that these things never get accomplished?
More specifically: the accurate prediction of your need of it, the reality of allotting it appropriately and the ability to firmly commit to it.
You might think those 3 factors are not worth looking into, but I promise you, getting better at those 3 things will 100% improve your productivity within important areas of your life.
I have 4 major projects that have been in the works for AT LEAST a year:
- Renovation of bathroom (BUDGET reno, I should clarify…)
- Deck wash, prime and repaint
- 4 seasons room bar and final setup
- Hobby room/office setup (requiring going through ALL THE CLOTHING AND ITEMS NEEDING DONATION….)
I have 3 more projects I have waited on starting until these others have been finished:
- Our bedroom repaint and refinish
- Wood working shop setup to include my gardening setup area/greenhouse/grow zone
- Play structure refurbish (not a priority due to our daughter’s age, but still… it needs to be fixed up!)
It doesn’t look like a lot but honestly, I seem to never be able to make headway on the first 4 enough to cross them off the list.
SO, NO MORE I SAY!
It is time for some time-management 101 and some anti-procrastination habits.
Easy peasy, you say? That’s nothing?
I say this is EVERYTHING!
What I am quickly learning is that my projects stretch out for exactly these two reasons.
Not because I don’t want or need them done…. but because of the detail involved in those two BIG IDEAS.
Recipes for success are not the same for everyone… but the basics you start from are usually there… you might just need to adjust to your personal preferences.
I am going to share 3 SUPER easy time management tips with you, and 3 (generally) PAINLESS anti-procrastination habits that will help you become more productive. It wont be easy, but I promise that you will feel more productive and satisfied with how you approach projects (or even big decisions and moves in your life) once you get comfortable with these.
One trait that all super successful people in the world have in common is this: DETERMINATION… the refusal to give up… the grit to keep going even through failure. They keep at it until they succeed. It’s the ONE THING we all need to show up with when we set a goal. Are YOU determined?
I would say most people who seek out to do something important to them have this trait. Whether you want to repaint your kitchen or learn a new language or improve your health… EVERYONE starts out with this concrete determination to get-it-done.
What happens though, is we slip, we falter and we lose that determination through bad habits and acceptance of our failed attempts as fact (and creeping self-doubt that basically starts the bad habit and failure is fact cycle allllllll over again) until we just move on to something else we feel we can get the “GOOD VIBES” from and be back up on top.
This cycle can unfortunately send people into a tough place… feeling stuck or that they are incapable of success or that they should settle for something that they are unhappy with as they cannot remedy the situation. Think of a time that you settled on doing something easy that you were good at instead of achieving the goal you set out to do. The more we do that, settle, the more that cycle becomes an intrinsic behavior we rely on as a support mechanism and honestly, a survival mechanism.
Let’s work together to try to break that machine. It won’t be easy, but you are determined, right? RIGHT. We can do this, people!
Here I’m going to use myself as an example.
One of the most enjoyable parts of owning a small hobby farm & homestead is the joy you get from creating sustenance for yourself and family. That ability to grow food, raise protein sources and beautify your home naturally through your own handiwork is EXTREMELY gratifying to those of us who choose this life (however shallow or deep you get into that homesteading pool…)
The reality of that creation, however, is that it requires TIME. Time that generally, once things are up and running, is not 100% within your control. Gardening requires reliance on the weather and climate that can impact your plans and work, predatory incidents can completely re-write your week in order to ensure your farm animals’ safety is maximized… there is much that you just cannot control built into this life that so many see as simple and carefree.
That uncontrollable level of randomness can cause all sorts of challenges when you want to layer additional projects into your world. In all honestly, mowing the lawn or folding and putting away laundry OFTEN end up on the bottom of the list around here!
So it becomes easy to see that without a good way to measure, allot and schedule things, mismanagement of time can cause things to be left dangling.
Apply this to your own situation. Understanding TIME as it relates to YOU is a big obstacle we humans face (speaking in philosophical terms or not!)
People who are successful at achieving goals are VERY GOOD at judging, scheduling and committing time based on how it relates to themselves. Unsuccessful people are often unsuccessful because they are NOT.
They put unrealistic timetables in place, they compare themselves to others who have successfully accomplished similar things, they inaccurately schedule it within the realities of their own lives or they just are completely unaware of the true nature of the project and the time each component requires.
Successful people are aware of these things, or have become aware of these things through unsuccessful previous attempts (ah – see that determination rearing up??) and adjusting to accommodate for those new learnings.
Tip #1: know your personal daily routine. And I don’t mean the simple things like ‘I eat breakfast before leaving the house at 8:25a then lunch and then clock out at 5p.’ I mean KNOW YOUR SCHEDULE. When do you lose yourself on social media? How long do you get ready in the morning? How many snoozes to you hit? How many tv binges do you get lost in on a day off? What is your child’s routine? How does it impact your schedule? Don’t wander through your day like a checklist…. be AWARE of it on a new level.
You CAN’T really schedule something ‘extra’ or ‘new’ without knowing where it is going to sit… in your week or your day (or even year!)
Track your day for 3-7 days. I mean TRACK IT.
You will be amazed to see exactly where you have gaps that can be tightened up… or where you dropped the ball or where you have serious opportunities to re-organize your day to accomplish what you want.
This is not meant to make you feel bad about how you use your time either, but for you to UNDERSTAND where it goes and how you assign it. You will be very aware of it, and if you are sacrificing doing something important for something inconsequential, you will see it right away. This awareness should be EMPOWERING, not degrading. Remember that!
Tip #2: BREAK IT DOWN INTO SMALLER CHUNKS OF TIME. Often we don’t start something because it seems TOO BIG. Like, looking at the peak of a mountain that just seems TOO LARGE to climb in a day, like most people do. Well, maybe YOU are not meant to climb that mountain in a day. You might need 2-3 days to get to the top… camping out along the way to rest and recover.
Consider your capabilities or availability of time. If you only have an extra 30 minutes a day that you can spare, can you break the project down into 30 minute increments?
Understanding the total project or end goal is not enough to guarantee you will achieve it. You need to know what goes into it, step by step and break it down for yourself. It’s true, most of us like to follow instructions and be told how to do things, BUT if you do not apply those instructions to your personal capabilities you risk that ‘Settle Cycle’ sneaking back up on you.
Make the climb to the peak (your goal) your OWN personal journey and commit to make it YOURS. Not someone else’s.
Tip #3: Analyze Your Time Usage For Opportunities. By breaking things down into smaller chunks of time, the great thing is you end up with lots of chances to WIN… and lots of potential little lessons on how to get better.
It might sound daunting to review your accomplishments like this, but trust me, you will be AMAZED to see your successes stack up as you also are LEARNING how to become more productive with the time you have.
QUICK NOTE: This section is not to say you should be optimizing EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF YOUR DAY. Please don’t work yourself into a stupor…. if you know you need some decompression time each day after work, make that a non-negotiable… but if you binge 4 episodes of The Office during that decompression time after work…. you need to be honest about a few things: Do you really need 2 hours to decompress or are you decompressing in a very unfocused way so you lose 2 hours to the television?
We all do it.
Just own up to it. LOL. I have to remind myself ALL THE TIME (because I do it all the time!)
Tip #1: KNOW WHAT YOUR GOAL/PROJECT ENTAILS. I mean, KNOW IT. Most procrastination habits start because people don’t know what to do next… or are unsure where to start….
- If you want to build a deck, you are never going to do it if you don’t have a complete understanding of what goes into building a deck… from materials, to costs, to time, to equipment needed to potential help required to potential pitfalls.
- If you want to learn a new language? The same understanding applies: how long is each lesson, can you commit that time daily or weekly? How will you practice? Do you need help? How much will it cost?
- If you want to begin gardening? Same thing: what is the light situation where you want to grow? What supplies are needed, can you commit to the maintenance required, do you have the equipment to grow what you are trying to grow? What is the cost involved?
Knowing the destination you want to arrive at (your goal) is great, but if you don’t know how to get there… you are setting yourself up for challenges, disappointment and risk abandoning the trip all together!
Tip #2: BREAK IT DOWN INTO ACHIEVABLE TASKS. Hmmm seeing a theme here? Or similarities to the above tips? Yes, breaking down a goal or project into easily achievable tasks is an AMAZING way to avoid procrastinating and actually REACH that goal. Most people don’t shy away from small things that can be accomplished easily (if it is tied to a bigger goal.)
I will give you an example from my old profession: RETAIL.
If there is a goal to achieve $100,000 in sales by the end of a sales event… that can sound pretty daunting. BUT if you break it down by hour that you are open and track hourly sales…. it becomes more manageable. Breaking it down further to how many selling staff you have on hand each day makes it even MORE reasonable (if everyone does their part) and breaking to down to each HOUR for each selling staff member is on the floor makes it almost negligible.
The only requirement for this, which is identical to the tip in the time management section is this: DETERMINATION. If you break it down into easily manageable chunks, you HAVE to commit to accomplishing the easy task (or the hourly sales goal in the above example.)
Tip #3: ANALYZE FOR OPPORTUNITY. Again, breaking big goals into smaller tasks gives you LOTS of chances to win… it also gives you tons of data. Sometimes you might be taking it too easy on yourself. If you get a task done in 10 minutes that you alotted 30 minutes to accomplish… what are you doing with that extra 20 minutes? Can you get another quick win? Or do you need to look at your future tasks and beef them up a bit? Maybe you underestimated your ability…. it may be that you can accomplish 2 tasks instead of 1? Or do you head back to Instagram. Or Facebook. Or the next Office episode to binge?
If it is an important goal: each task is important… if you can, see how you can get more out of the time you gave yourself.
Now, to apply these to my projects?
- I haven’t finished the bathroom because I’m not planning enough time NOR am I planning to do it on the right day…. (with low humidity… OR just shutting the window and having the AC on!)
- I haven’t started the deck because I’m looking for 3-4 perfect days of weather in a row to get it all done in one fell swoop. (ummmm, breaking this one up into sections is an easy fix and our deck has 3 distinct sections so I can do it without making it noticeable!)
- I haven’t installed the shelving or bar yet as I need to problem solve around a challenge on the ceiling (aka, the brackets for the industrial shelving are 1 inch too long for the wooden valance that I am trying to attach them to.) I need to either a. mount a longer piece of wood to extend the surface or see if it can be secured properly with 3 versus 4 screws. Then to finish unpacking the glassware and actually set up the bar area (which is still in moving boxes, if you can believe it.)
- This one just hasn’t happened due to the sheer amount of time needed (in my opinion) and I have not allotted or scheduled it and committed to it as I didn’t really label this project as CRITICAL. I need to schedule an hour a day (most likely in the morning maybe when having coffee) to go through the room, designate the things being donated and moving them to where they can be stored until donating. THEN I can set up the room as our hobby/remote office area and have a private space to house our hobby items, as well as a quiet space to use as an office when hubs or I need it… to record podcasts in, or even to just read in…
See it all laid bare like above, shows me JUST how must I have procrastinated in finishing these off.
Each of those things is very achievable.
#4 might be the hardest, but only because it will require the most time to actually accomplish.
If you feel like you have unfinished projects or a goal you just can’t reach… try applying the above tips and then see how you could approach it differently.
We all want to be successful.
Let’s become more accomplished by committing to managing time better and creating steps that derail procrastination!
3 easy steps to manage time better, 3 easy steps to curb procrastination.
IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU!
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