How to stop procrastinating and start being productive

Kate Jones
@kateljnes

Procrastination is the well-known enemy of productivity. It’s the time-wasting art of putting off things on the to-do list, making even the smallest task seem harder.

Small business owners who wear more than one hat are no strangers to procrastination. In any given day they could be juggling the accounts, human resources and marketing. Odds are, they dislike or don’t feel confident doing at least one of these jobs and this is where the “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude can creep in.

Smart technology has made it even easier to delay work. Times flies while watching funny YouTube clips or catching up with friends on social media.

The most common procrastination methods were revealed in a US survey by job site CareerBuilder earlier this year.

Of more than 2100 people surveyed, 52 per cent said using a smart phone or texting was the top way to avoid work followed by 44 per cent who identified surfing the Internet. Gossiping was a productivity killer for 37 per cent and social media for 36 per cent.

So what’s the best way to stop procrastinating and start being productive?

Dr Warren Harmer, author of Business Planning For Small Business, says procrastination can be avoided with these simple steps.

Work with a very strict planning cycle and you’ll see immediate results.

Strict planning

Work with a very strict planning cycle and you’ll see immediate results. Harmer recommends planning out the week’s main goals and then drilling down to a daily task list, in order of priority. Most importantly, stick to it.

Technology is on your side

“Use technology for yourself and your team – there are many apps available to plan diaries, priorities, share and measure time use,” says Harmer.

Get started with Finish, a free app that lets you set goals in the short, mid and long term.

Ask colleagues and mentors about their efficiency methods. Someone else could be doing it much more effectively and cheaper.

Check and measure

It may come as a surprise to learn four hours of the day is spent emailing and only half an hour is dedicated to finding new business.

Consider ways to reclaim lost time by using analytic software or outsourcing tasks.

Prioritise difficult jobs

Stop putting off the inevitable and get the toughest tasks out of the way first.

Get help

Ask colleagues and mentors about their efficiency methods. Someone else could be doing it much more effectively and cheaper.

Kate Jones

Kate Jones writes for the business and money sections of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She also writes for The New Daily, TAC, RMIT and is a news writing tutor at Monash University.

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