How to stop wasting time and get on with that job (infographic)

Whether it’s a big project at work or that home improvement task you’ve been promising yourself that you’ll tackle ‘soon’, human beings are experts at finding excuses to delay unappealing jobs. So much so that a study found that only 11% of workers said that they managed to achieve all of their tasks in any given workday. But what can be done to change this and become the kind of person who always gets things done?

The first question to ask yourself is what the consequences would be if you didn’t get that job done right now. If there aren’t any, or they aren’t anything to worry about, when there’s probably more important work you can be doing. If it’s a priority for your manager, then there probably will be consequences for you, for example. Finally, do you have anyone you can delegate it to? If not, no more excuses, it’s time to get going:

Get Past The Transition Point

The ‘transition point’ is the action you take to really get a task underway, which means that if you’re constantly putting it off, this is where things normally go wrong. It can take the form of a phone call or a meeting to get the information you need to get started, or it can be as simple as actually opening the file you need on your computer and writing the title at the top. Whatever form it takes, it’s essential to get over this first hurdle as soon as possible so you can make some headway.

Avoid Distractions

Workplaces are full of distractions. So you need to find ways to mitigate all of these before you get started. For example, they can be noisy places, so if you’re allowed to wear headphones, especially noise-cancelling ones, put them on when you need to focus, and listen to music that keeps you on track. An untidy work space can also be distracting, so if you need to, take 5 minutes to have a tidy up. And, if your colleagues are the problem, arrange time for uninterrupted work and make sure they know the importance of it.

Know When You’re Most Productive

‘Ultradian cycles’ are the way we measure our energy and productivity across a working day. Nobody is at their peak for the entirety of 9-5, so you need to understand when the best time for you to get your head down and plough through lots of work. You can find this out by tracking your work across a few days and identifying the peaks and troughs, then set out a schedule that takes these into consideration. When you’re at your best, make sure there are no distractions and you can really get on with the work.

Fight Off Negativity

The voices in your head are very good at telling you that this piece of work is just too big, or too difficult and that you’d be better off leaving it and focusing on something a bit quicker and easier. That’s why you’ve been putting it off for so long, but that kind of thinking is counter productive and needs to be silenced. You might feel like the job will never end, but you can train yourself to ignore the voices. First, visualize the negative thought and acknowledge it and the effect it has on you, then picture it floating away from you, downstream like a leaf on a river. This will be enough to help you move on and re-focus on your work without too much of an impact.

Break It Down

If it still seems like this piece of work is too insurmountable to even begin to tackle, you need to break it down into more manageable chunks. This not only helps you organize your time more effectively, but also has the psychological boost of taking the edge off your fear that you might not be able to do it. So break the work down and plan a timetable for when each chunk will be completed, and suddenly what seemed like a huge job will start to look much more achievable.

Once You’ve Started, Stay On Track

We’ve already talked about some of the distractions that can crop up when you most need to focus, and how they can affect your ability to get started. But once you’re underway, it’s still crucial not to lose track of the target. There’ll be lots of situations that occur that distract you, so the best thing to do is to acknowledge the distraction and do a breathing exercise to refocus your brain on the task at hand. Make sure your computer and devices aren’t distracting you, by switching off anything that isn’t necessary, including notifications from emails, Whatsapp, social media and anything else that will interfere.

Plan Your Time With Some Breaks

Human beings can’t focus on one thing for a long period of time, we’re just wired that way, so instead of forcing your way through it, plan around your natural rhythm. You can either work in 90 minute bursts and take five minute breaks in-between, or perhaps try the Pomodoro technique, which is based around 25 minute bursts and five minute breaks. See which one suits your working style best.

Get The Right Conditions

Even the temperature in your office can play its part in helping you knuckle down and get on with the job you’ve been avoiding, so if you can have your say without causing a thermometer war, try and get the temperature to between 68 and 77 degrees. That’s the range that has been shown to be most productive for working. If you find it impossible to get the right temperature, try using either a fan or some warmer clothes to optimize your own conditions.

It’s understandable to avoid projects that seem like they will be either too difficult or perhaps too boring, but they never go away, so you’re only ever delaying the pain. Instead, try using these tips to help you get on with it and you’ll find your working life much more productive and rewarding in the long run.

Your Guide to Starting That Task You Have Been Avoiding - infographic

Read Next: How to switch off your work brain after hours (infographic)
Previous Post Next Post