Productivity versus Procrastination

11 Sep

I know a lot about procrastination. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. But I feel like I need to equivocate that statement by saying that I also know a lot about productivity.

Last week I spent a full day in a training seminar about change in the workplace, stress, and productivity. I learned a lot but I felt like I already knew a lot too. Productivity has always been a field that interested me, not just at an academic level but also at a personal level. I wholeheartedly embrace my Type-A personality and will admit I can go a bit overboard on the organization front. But at the same time I sometimes choose to ignore things when it would better suit my needs to be completing that task right away.

I find that meandering my way though different disciplines in university taught me some very diverse skills in the areas of procrastination and productivity. Once September hit I was a full-fledged productivity responsibility champion, but found that by the end of the semester my procrastination tendencies would start to seep back in. Here’s how I have learned how to deal with this double-sided coin:

1. Write It Down

Ever since junior high I have been meticulous about keeping a planner/agenda/to-do-list/what have you. I have since made the move from paper and pen to a hybrid between my iPhone and a Moleskine Weekly Planner. A lot of people might say that having both is a bit redundant but I am a visual learner. I find I remember a lot more of something when I am writing it down rather than typing it into a screen. By integrating both into my system I also end up not worrying about always having my planner physically with me. The Moleskine is more about long range planning, especially with its handy lined right side pages, whereas my iPhone is more about what I am specifically doing that day.

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2. Prioritize

This is one of my key things. I always rank my tasks in categories of what needs to get done when. Email my boss my weekly status report? DO ASAP. Make up the Halloween Potluck sign up sheet? That can wait until later in the month, if not October. I also always write down due dates, appointments, etc. as soon as I am made aware of them that way they can’t slip past me. The number one thing I get asked about regarding my prioritizing system is “What’s with all the markers?” I will confess. I am obsessed with color coding things. One day I came back to my desk to find that someone had rearranged my markers out of rainbow sequence. My reaction:

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3. You Can’t Get It All Done Today

In the last little while I have really learned to embrace this philosophy. If you tried to get every single thing done every single day, you’d have no time for relaxation or fun. So I choose two or three things that are top priority but can definitely be accomplished within the day’s timeframe. It allows me to get things done, but without the stress of “IT MUST BE DONE NOWWWWWWWWW.”

4. Know Yourself

And by that I mean, know what your bad habits are. My number one bad habit is that I just want to do nothing when I get home. If I sit down on the couch, it’s game over. So I try to do as much as I can as soon as I get home from work. Then by the time dinner is on a roll I’ve gotten most of what I wanted to get done and I can then re-assert my love of the PVR and catch up on some TV, read a book, or simply spend hours on Wikipedia looking up arcane subjects like panda reproduction (even with all our scientific advances we still don’t know how it works!), the nuances of Final Fantasy characters, and what exactly sarin gas can do to a human being.

 

There’s a lot more out there than what I’ve outline above. I’m a frequent visitor to lifehacker.com and hackcollege.com and hanging out on productivity boards on pinterest. Let me know if you’ve got some other methods that work for you!

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