We’ve all been there: postponing some big project from day to day, trying to push ourselves to finish it off. What are the secrets of getting things done on time, without that guilty feeling and regrets flooding our brains? There are loads of well-known time management tips, but here are the ones we tested by ourselves.
1. Reward yourself
Make a promise to do something you really want after the task is done. This could be a treat from the store, eating out at a special place, buying tickets for a concert, watching a movie or taking a bubble bath. Or just postpone any fun activity until the job you need to do is finished.
2. Make a schedule
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein
Schedules! They seem to be true saviors. Sometimes you can’t finish something because you just underestimate how much time it will take. We all tend to create unrealistic schedules as we think that if we just sped up a bit, everything would be on time. But the truth is, in reality, you can’t act as if you are on Mission Impossible. Tiredness, unexpected force majeure, lack of motivation. Have an honest schedule of what you do during the day and how much time it truly takes to accomplish the task. Include every step of the day: washing-up, eating, feeding your cat and husband — everything! Give yourself slightly more time than you think you need for some steps just in case — this will prevent the obstacles from slowing you down.
3. Hide distractions
Yeah, no matter how perfect your schedule is, and how motivated you are, often you can’t help but get distracted. Who has never started from googling an average temperature in Malaysia and finished by reading about king penguin’s mating behavior. It’s all too easy to spend lots of time on the Internet whilst feeling like it is no time at all. If you want to block your access to many different time-wasting websites altogether during the time you’ll be using the Internet for your project, there are some apps which can help you do it:
- StayFocusd (Chrome)
- LeechBlock (Firefox)
- Concentrate (Chrome)
- FocalFilter (Windows)
- ColdTurkey (Windows)
- Focus (Mac)
Turn your phone to airplane mode or switch it off completely. There are also some apps to help you ration online time, but why not simply turn it off? You can return any missed calls after you’re done and conversations won’t distract you. No background music, videos, TV shows or series. Lock your pets in a bathroom and call in a babysitter.
4. Go out!
Get out of your home if possible, or your daily routines will put you out. Even the most boring housework starts looking more appealing when you need to focus on a project. Local library, open space, quite café, even bench in the park. Who knows, changes can stimulate you for some new ideas. But if you need to stay at home, choose a room which has fewer distractions — possibly the kitchen instead of your bedroom
5. Give me a hand
Sometimes all you need is to get together with a responsible, goal-oriented friend, and finally get it done! But remember — choose a responsible friend, otherwise you’ll end up wasting your time together.
6. Make it fun
Anything can be fun if you add a bit creative. You need to read something for your class tomorrow? Buy awesome highlighters. Instead of memorizing something by heart the usual way, record your voice on your phone while reading the text and listen to it multiple times while going somewhere or doing something. It works really well! Also, sometimes music can increase your productivity and do wonders for concentration. You can find out which genre perfectly matches your certain tasks and purposes here.
7. Turn it into a habit
Usually, things which make us procrastinate are tasks that need to be done repeatedly. Make a habit out of them: every, let’s say, Saturday, at a certain time, you should do this particular task. When you turn it into a habit, it stops feeling like something you might not do. It becomes a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth, and even if there is a temptation to skip it, it’s much less strong. Calculate how long you’ll need to do it every time and schedule the following reward.