Life can get overwhelming these days, and sometimes it seems impossible to get to grips with what you need to do and when you are going to get it done. And when that happens it is often that the lure of the television gets overwhelming and you end up doing nothing
Everybody works differently so there is no "one-stop" solution, however the following tips and techniques will aid you in completing those tasks -- be they trivial items, or life changing projects, enabling you to get back on top of things.
1) Write It Down - the Task List
If you don’t write things down, you probably won’t do them. If you take the time to write a list of tasks that you need to complete, you’re far more likely to begin them. Simply jot down what needs doing, and start with the tasks that take priority.
A good system to use is the “Personal Kanban”. This involves using 3 columns, and writing the tasks on colored sticky notes. The three columns are “backlog”, “doing” and “done”.
All sticky notes start in the backlog column. Once you start one or more tasks, the related sticky notes moves to the “doing” column. Once complete, the note moves to the “done” column.
2) Eating the Elephant
This works well with tasks that you either hate doing, or it just seems to big to achieve, so they are always put off for another day.
You may have heard the question before: “How do I eat an elephant?”.
The answer is: “One bite at a time”.
If you hate washing dishes, but know it needs to be done, try breaking the task down into time segments. Instead of thinking, “oh, I have to do the washing up”, think: “I’m going wash the dishes, but only for 11 minutes”.
It’s much easier to to motivate yourself to do only 11 minutes work. You’ll also find that you’re likely to carry on doing the task, even after the time has elapsed. It’s also quite surprising how much you can get done in 11 minutes!
Another way to tackle difficult projects is to figure out each activity that comprises the whole, and make each an individual task. For example, if you had to cut the grass in the front and back garden, then the individual tasks would be:
- Cut the grass in the front yard
- Trim the edges
- Rake the grass
- Sweep up
- Cut the grass in the back yard
- Trim the edges
- Rake the grass
- Sweep up
The bare minimum to do would be to cut the grass in the front yard. Even if you only did this one task, then progress has been made. It’s easier to set a smaller goal of doing bite sized tasks, than procrastinating over completing the whole project.
3) Reward Yourself
Rewarding yourself for a completed task can be excellent motivation. If you are looking forward to something you enjoy, then the work does not seem so difficult or boring.
How you reward yourself is entirely up to you. It can even be small items, like a nice cup of coffee, or an hours break to watch something on TV. Or perhaps something bigger, like buying that item you’ve been wanting for a while.
Self discipline is important here. Make sure you don’t grant yourself the reward until you have actually completed the task. Most times the reward is so much sweeter if you work hard for it.
4) Keep Up Your Energy Levels
Your energy level and mood has a big impact on getting stuff done. If you’re in a bad mood, or feel tired and lethargic, you are a lot less likely to be motivated to do anything.
To quickly improve energy levels, exercise is a must. You don’t have to do anything too strenuous or committed. In fact, doing 10 pushups or jogging on the spot for 60 seconds can work wonders, and can be done at practically any time. A morning workout routine that gets the blood pumping can give you a great start to the day.
On a long term basis, other things that dramatically effect your energy levels is lack of sleep and diet. Remember how great you feel after a good nights sleep? It may be that you need to get to bed a little earlier each night to feel the benefits.
As for diet, too much processed or sugary foods will cause low energy levels. These types of food can give a slight boost at first, but then comes the “crash”. Have you ever noticed how tired you feel every day after lunch? Again, drastic changes are not needed, just try not to go overboard on the sugary or starchy foods, and try to add more fruit, nuts and veggies to your meals and snacks.
Using even one of the four techniques listed above will help you overcome procrastination, and finally get things done.
You’ll be amazed at how the mood can lift once you’ have completed things that have been on the back of your mind for so long, sometimes without you realizing!