The Secret to Getting More Done
Everyone procrastinates. This isn’t a specific trait of one Pixie style type. Sure some personalities procrastinate more than others — yes, we’re talking to you Funs, Organic Freedoms and Smart Freedoms. But everybody does it. The secret to getting more done is to figure out your personality. Once you know who you are then you’ll know WHY you procrastinate and the tricks and simple strategies that work to get you to actually do things.
Universal Reason People Procrastinate
People procrastinate for a myriad of reasons. The first reason — and the most universal — is that people procrastinate when something is incredibly tedious or boring. Classics, Organic Structures and Smart Structures can avoid this fate rather easily as you’ll read in the next paragraph. Funs, Organic Freedoms and Smart Freedoms have a little bit of an uphill battle to stop procrastination. But, you’ll see below that all hope is not lost.
Writing out weekly and daily strategic To Do list need to include all boring tasks. Even if it’s something mundane like “Pair up lost socks” or “Clear out Inbox”. Whether it’s weekly, daily or annually, build that mundane routine into an advance To Do list. Flip ahead in your agenda, then put that task down even if it’s three months from now or next year.
The reason that it’s important to create advance routine To Do list items is that you don’t have to do these tasks today or tomorrow. I joke it’s like sanctioned procrastination. But these tasks are IN there now. This is half the battle. Once something is on your To Do list or in your agenda, you do it. This stops procrastination in its tracks and is an almost imperceptible way of getting more done.
Now, Funs, Organic Freedoms and Smart Freedoms can avoid procrastinating boring tasks by figuring out a way to make them enjoyable — i.e., mentally schedule your favorite podcast or guilty pleasure TV show when you do any mundane task. Then actually schedule smart phone alarms in the future to remind you to do these tasks. I’d set a few up alarms and have them repeat as regularly as you need them. The combination of the alarm with doing something enjoyable. If you want to try To Do lists, by all means, try them. But, they’re not likely your magic key to getting more done.
Stop and notice you’re procrastinating
One of the secondary reasons that people procrastinate is that a task comes with layers of hidden decisions that you need to make or feelings about the task that are invisible on the surface. This is where many Classic Freedoms, Fun Freedoms, and Organics get hung up on a task and don’t get more done.
Often, we think of a To Do like “Find an AirBnB for Vacation” as super simple and frankly fun. Yet, if it is then why are many people quite capable of putting it off week after week? In this example, the answer is that the task itself is either not the initial task that needs to get done. You might be worried about money and whether it’s a good idea to go on vacation right now. Therefore the initial task isn’t “Find an AirBnb” it’s the decision you need to make before you do that task, i.e., “Figure out vacation budget”.
The first trick to ending this type of procrastination is to just notice that you’re procrastinating. That’s all. Don’t judge yourself. It’s a riff on a great piece of advice from the world’s BEST Executive coaches alive, Steven Carr. He told me once that when I’m worrying about something just to notice that I’m worrying, don’t try to solve it.
The thing is that when you just take note of procrastination without internally admonishing yourself, the reason is either immediately clear to you and if not, you’ve created enough space to ponder why. In that space, the reason eventually becomes clear as do the simple strategies to get more done.
Break down projects into doable tasks
The tertiary reason people put things off is an offshoot of the secondary reason: the task at hand isn’t actually ONE To Do. This is one of the main reasons that Classics procrastinate. The task is a big project that you’ve oversimplified it in your head or agenda as one task. For example, “Paint Teddy’s room” seems straightforward. But in reality it’s more than one To Do. It’s more like four To Do’s: “Pick paint color for Teddy’s room”, “Buy paint”, “Find a day to paint”, and “Paint Teddy’s room”. In this instance, they key to stop procrastination is to first notice it. Then, ask whether it’s a bigger task than it appears.
I promise I didn’t come up with a fourth reason just to learn the word quarternary. LOL. The fourth reason people put things off is when procrastinating a task — like finding a vacation rental or painting a kid’s room — isn’t something that immediately gets you in trouble. Or at least not in trouble the way not having clean clothes or finishing that report for work gets you into hot water. This is one of the main reasons that Funs, Organic Freedoms and Smart Freedoms procrastinate things.
One of my favorite solutions for this comes from many Smart clients and friends: Delegate. When you’re not getting more done or it’s a specific task, delegate it to someone who is either less busy or wants the end results a little bit more than you do. But word of warning, don’t tell someone you’re delegating this task. Nobody wants to feel like you’re shoving your To Do list on to them. Instead, ask for help. For some reason, a lot of us are “suckers” when it comes to helping out a friend or a loved one. 😉 AND it’s an effective way to stop procrastination.