No matter what your attitude to work is, unless you’re a highly ambitious and almost insanely gifted workaholic, you have probably had more than your share of procrastination episodes. It doesn’t matter if your deadline is fast approaching or that you’ve seen an increasingly flustered expression on your boss’s face. Sometimes motivation just escapes you and absolutely no amount of pleading or deadline-dread can bring it back. It happens to the best of us. But, as it happens, there are quite a few tips and tricks that you can call into action when you absolutely must finish organizing that mega-event on the other side of town.
first piece of advice
Now this might appear to be counter intuitive, but with the right balance and self control it can actually help quite a bit. Schedule small, periodic breaks while working to allow your mind some time off from the task. The trick to pulling this off is to avoid sitting there with your eyes shut. Try getting up and walking around. Make a short, impromptu trip to the supplies room. You want to take your mind off working while at the same time doing something energetic. Practically, this means that you’ll return to your work faster and with a more refreshed mind than you would have if you had just simply procrastinated.
Eliminate distractions to improve focus at work
This takes many, many practical forms. You might want to clean out your working space, neatly organizing it so that your mind is less distracted by the random post-its notes stuck to the wall next to you, and more on the task at hand.
Switch off your internet connection
This doesn’t require it but if you’re not constantly checking Facebook for notifications on that hilarious, witty status update you posted or chatting with that friend you knew from college. You tend to work harder and better with short social breaks. If your work does require you to frequent the internet stray away from opening any additional websites that could distract you from your work. It might start with a simple ‘Oh, how bad can a simple notification check get?’, but trust me. It’s a slippery slope you don’t want to go down.
And never, ever multi-task
You might think that your work is more accomplished by challenging yourself in the variety of doing different tasks. This allows you to take a good break from the monotony and frustration of tackling just one project but it generally reduces your focus. You’ll get a few tasks done but at a slower speed and the ones you’re stuck on will be pushed to the back of your head. Instead focus on prioritizing your work. Do easier tasks earlier to get it out of the way and then sit down to look at the unpleasant ones in the eye.
Try some focus building exercises
This is the fun part- your ability to focus on a project at work improves dramatically if you simply try something that constantly requires your attention without taking too many breaks from it. Now the concept sounds like more and more work but trust me I’m talking about enjoyable exercises such as reading or drawing. Spend at least half an hour reading up on that book you purchased or finishing that self portrait you’ve been working on. Find any activity that requires your attention, and do it daily- just a small step that goes a long, long way.