The following article features thoughts on how to stop procrastinating and how to be better with your time. It’s about managing your time, or dare I say it: time management.
After reading Brian Tracy’s seminal work, Eat That Frog, these are current thoughts on procrastination and doing better at this thing we call life. Whether that’s in your video business, as a freelancer, or even working a job. We can all improve and do better things with our time.
This article will show you how.
Preface — How to Stop Procrastinating
Fact: you are never going to get caught up and on top of your tasks. You need to focus on the few activities that can really make a difference in your life.
What makes the difference? Ask successful people what do they did to achieve great results. In every area of their life. Learn from the experts.
Success is predictable. Successful people use their time better than ‘normal’ people. They do things differently and they are not necessarily better.
“The ability to concentrate single mindedly in your most important task, to do it well and to finish it completely, is the key to great success, achievement, respect, status and happiness in life.”
In his book, Tracy includes the 21 best practices on time management.
The key to success is action.
Never forget that.
Introduction — Eat that frog
This is a wonderful time to be alive. There were never more opportunities than today.
We are overwhelmed with the crazy amount of things we can do, which lead us to take on too many tasks. The biggest bottleneck is finding the time to do all these tasks.
You need to be selective. Your ability to select your most important task at each moment and get it done quickly and well will have more impact on your success than any other quality or skill.
The truth about frogs: If you eat a frog each morning first thing, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is the worst thing that will happen in your day.
Your frog: the task you are most likely to procrastinate on and the one that will have the most positive impact in your life if you get it done.
First rule: If you have 2 frogs, eat the ugliest one first. If you have two important tasks, start with the biggest and hardest one.
Think of this like a test. Resist the temptation of taking the easy path.
Second rule: The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is to develop the habit of tackling your biggest task first thing in the morning. Do not take too much time to think about it.
Quality of action-orientation is one of the biggest factors in a person’s succss. Failure to execute is a big problem.
The habit of setting priorities, overcoming procrastination and getting on with your most important task is a mental and physical skill.
You can learn it from action and repetition.
Task completion: makes you happy, feeling like a winner and very powerful. The completion of an important task triggers the release of endorphins.
Develop a positive addiction
You can develop a positive addiction to endorphins, clarity and competence.
You will, at an unconscious level, develop a life that will be action and task completion oriented.
Starting and finishing important tasks is the key to success. Practice is thee key to mastering any skill. Your mind is like a muscle.
The 3 Ds of habit formation:
- Decision — Make a decision to take on a habit of task completion. You’ll love it!
- Discipline — Discipline yourself to complete the tasks every time through repetition.
- Determination — Act with determination (certainty) all the time until it becomes a habit and a part of your natural response new work.
Visualize yourself as you want to be. Think continually about the rewards and benefits of being a fast-moving action oriented person.
Your mental picture of yourself has a powerful effect on your behavior. All improvements in your outer life begin with improvements in your mind.
Set the table
Before you can determine your frog and get to the job of eating, you need to decide what you want to achieve in each area of your life.
Clarity — very important. Strive for it.
Only 3% of adults have written goals.
7 Step Formula for achieving goals:
1. Decide exactly what you want.
2. Write it down.
3. Set a deadline and sub deadlines.
4. Make a list of everything that you need to do to achieve your goal.
5. Organize your list into a plan.
6. Take action on your plan immediately. Execution is everything.
7. Do something every day that moves you to your daily goal.
Keep moving and don’t stop.Written goals have great power, as you make it real when you write it down.
They motivate you and stimulate your creativity. Goals are the fuel of achievement.
Think about them and review them daily.
1. Take a clean sheet of paper and make a list of 10 goals in the present tense and follow the 7-Step Formula goal process.
Plan every day in advance
How do you eat your biggest frog?
Break it down into specific activities and start on the first one.
Your ability to think, plan and decide: key to eliminating procrastination. The very act of thinking, of planning, unlocks mental powers.
Strive to increase your energy. One of your top goals: to get the highest possible mental ROI (Return On Investment) from your emotional, physical and mental effort.
Every minute spent in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.
For planning, all you need is a pen and a piece of paper.
Always work from a list. You can increase your productivity and output by 25% or more when you work from your list.
The more you take to make written lists of what you need to do, the more effective you will be.
1st — Create a master list of everything you want to do in the future.
2nd — Monthly list at the end of the month for the month ahead
3rd — Weekly list.
Just take a couple of hours at the end of the week to plan the next week.
And it doesn’t need to be written. You can use digital methods, too. Like Trello, one of my favourite productivity tools.
Planning a project
When you have a project:
- Make a list of every step you need to take to complete it from beginning to end.
- Organize the steps by priority.
- Layout the project on paper or project planner.
- Get started and getting things done!
By doing this, you will get better insights and work in a more motivated and peak performance way.
The first 10% of time you spend planning will save you as much as 90% of the time in getting the job done once you get started.
1. Begin to plan every day, week and month in advance. Make a list of everything you need to do.
2. Lay out all your major goals by priority and sequence.
Use the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule is one of the most important concepts in life and business.
Vital few — top 20% in terms of money and influence. All economic activity is subject to this activity.
So, if you have a list of 10 tasks to do, 2 of them will give you the top 20% of benefits and results.
Sad fact: most people procrastinate on the vital few.
There are people who are very busy all the time but do not accomplish anything. That is because they work on low-value tasks.
The most valuable task is often the hardest and most complex.
Always ask: Is this activity in my top 20% list?
Feed the part of your mind that loves working on high value tasks.
1. Make a list of all key goals, activities and responsibilities.
2. Which are the top tasks that could represent 80%-90% of the results of doing those tasks?
3. Resolve to spend the majority of your time on those tasks.
Consider the consequences
The mark of the superior thinker is to accurately predict the consequences of doing or not doing something. Having a long term perspective is more important than any other factor in determining your success in life and work.
Long term thinking improves short term decision making.
Successful people have clear future orientation and make better decisions about time.
Have a clear idea of what you want in the long term so you can take better short term decisions.
Always ask yourself: “What are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?”
With a long term vision, you can evaluate a task in the present so that it is congruent with your most important long term goals.
Think about the long term always and be willing to delay gratification.
Unsuccessful people think about short-term pleasure and immediate gratification by giving very little thought to long term thinking.
The time is going to pass anyway, the only question is how are you going to use it and where are you going to end up at the end of the weeks and months that pass
Obey the law of forced efficiency. There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always time to do the most important thing.
3 questions for maximum productivity:
1. What are my highest value activities?
2. What can I, and only I, do that done well will make a real difference?
3. What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
Practice creative procrastination
You have to procrastinate on something, therefore, procrastinate on small tasks (small frogs).
Do the worst first.
The difference between high and low performance is largely determined by which tasks you procrastinate on.
Decide to procrastinate on low value activities. Eliminate those activitate those activities that don’t make any contribution to your life.
‘No’ is one of the most important words in time management. Say no to useless things in your life.
Practice zero-based thinking in every area of your life.
Use the ABCDE formula
One is the foundations of success is learning proper concentration.
The ABCDE Formula is a priority technique. This can make you very efficient.
Start with a list of everything you have to do. Write ABCD or E next to every task.
- A – Most important. The frog in your life. If you have more, write down A1, A2, A2, etc.
- B – A task that you should do, but has mild consequences.
- C – Phoning a friend, having lunch with a coworker. this has no effect on yourworklife.
- D – Something you can delegate to someone else.
- E – Something you can eliminate all together. It’s no longer relevant.When you develop the habit of concentrating on getting done your A1 tasks, you will get a lot done.
Focus on key result areas
Why am I doing this?
This is a key question to ask during your career.
Clarity is essential. Identify key areas of your work. It’s the starting point of peak performance. Make a list of your most important output responsibilities.
Once you identify your KRA (Key Result Areas), grade yourself from 1 to 10 in each of these key areas. Where are you strong and where are you weak?
Poor performance produces procrastination. Most people avoid poor performance tasks.
Identify clearly your areas of weakness, make goals and set a plan to make yourself better at them.
The great question: What one skill if I develop it will have the greatest impact on my career?
Good news: All business skills are learnable. Become excellent at your key result areas.
1. Write down the Key Results Areas of your business/job.
2. Take this list and make a list of your most important output responsibilities.
3. Pin this up somewhere you can see it. In front of your desk is a good one.
Apply the law of 3
The Law of 3 are 3 core tasks that you perform that contain most of the value that you contribute to your business or organization.
Your ability to identify this key 3 tasks and focus on them is essential for you to perform at your best.
Increase the value of what you do and on the results you provide in your work. 85% of your happiness will come from relationships.
The purpose of time management is to enable you to spend more face time with the people you care about doing the things that give you the greatest amount of joy in life.
Work all the time you work. Dont. Waste. Time.
Prepare before you begin
One of the best ways to overcome procrastination is to have everything you need at hand before you begin.
Just like preparing a meal, you get all of the ingredients before you start. Clear your desk and computer so you can focus on one task at a time.
Get started as quickly possible. Get it 80% right and then correct it later. Be prepared to fail over and over.
Use high status body language and get to work. Keep going until the job is finished.
Focus on one thing at a time
Focus on a single action you can take and take one bite at a time.
Take it one step at a time. Discipline yourself to take one step at a time. Go as far as you can see and then go further.
Upgrade your key skills
Upgrading your skills = key factor in your productivity .
Upgrade your skills in your key result areas. Never stop learning. Get better all the time.
The better you are at a key task, the more motivated you are and the more you launch into it. Also, you have more energy and enthusiasm.
Refuse to allow a lack of ability in any key area of your work.
The best news: you can learn any skill to be more productive and effective. You have the ability to learn anything if you decide to focus on it.
3 Steps to Mastery:
1. Read up on your field for at least 30 minutes per day.
2. Pay attention to every course or seminar on the key skills you need to learn.
3. Listen to audio programs in your car.
The more you learn, the more you can learn. The more you do, the more you can do. There is no limit, only the ones you place in your imagination.
Identify your key constraints
What are the key constraints in your video business and your life? Think about it this way:
- What is holding you back?
- What determines how fast you move?
- What is stopping you from eating the frogs that really make the differences?
These are key questions.
There is always a limiting factor. Identify it.
Every business has a limiting factor that determines how quickly or well it achieves its goals.
The accurate identification of the limiting factor will bring more progress than any other single activity.
The 80/20 rule applied to constraints:
- 80% of the constraints (or factors that are holding you back) are internal and within you.
- Only 20% of the limiting factors are external in the form of competition, other organizations, marketing factors, etc.
Look into your company honestly and see if there is a key weakness.
Look at yourself. Ask: “What is it in me that is holding me back?”
Have the honesty to look deeply into yourself. Once you alleviate any constraints, you will be finding other ones. It’s a natural part of the process.
- Identify your most important goal in your life today.
- Determine the one constraint that sets the speed in which you accomplish this goal.
- Analyse any stumbling blocks.
Put the pressure on yourself
No one is coming to the rescue and show you directly how to stop procrastinating. If you don’t take charge of your life, you will end up waiting forever.
Only 2% of people can work entirely without supervision. This is the kind of person you should be.
You must chose your own frogs and eat them in order of importance.
The standard you set for yourself is key.
Your self esteem is the reputation you have with yourself. It goes up and down with everything you do.
Create imaginary deadlines. This is so improatnt and can’t be stated strongly enough.
When we’re kids at school, we learn to hate deadlines. It seems like something pointless and arbitrary that the teacher has decided upon to make our lives difficult.
But, as you get older, you learn the true power of deadlines. Especially self-imposed deadlines. If you’re going to hit targets and goals in your video business, then you need to assign yourself deadlines.
Examples of this:
- Make a deadline for each client project and milestone on each project roadmap. Give yourself a hard deadline.
- Have a deadline for achieving each goal in your video business. Example: I will earn $50,000 in this next 12 month period.
1. Set deadlines and subdealines on every task and activity.
2. Write down every step of a major job or project. Make it a game and beat your times.
Motivate yourself into action
To perform at your best and learn how to stop procrastinating, you must become your own personal cheerleader.
Most of your emotions are created by how you talk to yourself on a regular basis.
Control your inner dialogue. Your level of self esteem is essential. Talk positively to yourself all the time.
To keep yourself motivated, continually tell yourself: I can do it.
Develop a positive mental attitude. Optimistic people are more successful.
4 qualities of the optimistic:
- Look for something good in every situation.
- Always seek the valuable lesson in every setback
- Optimists always look for the solution of every problem. They are actionoriented.
- Optimistic think and talk continually about their goals.
Technology is a terrible master
Technology can be your best friend or your worst enemy.
The compulsion to stay plugged in and always communicating is very bad for your productivity. Keep your technology always under control.
Detach on a regular basis from the technology that overwhelms you. Here’s how:
- Don’t become addicted to your phone.
- Refuse to be a slave and unchain yourself from your computer.
- Empower yourself to remove all emails that do not relate to important goals.
Technology is a wonderful servant
The purpose of technology is to make your life smoother.
No matter your age, race or gender, you can master technology.
Use social media like a challenge to be more productive.
Focus your attention
Where your attention goes, your life follows.
Focused attention is the key to high performance. Distraction and interruption are the biggest enemies.
Constantly reacting to messages, notifications, emails and other type of distractions have negative effects on your brain.
When you respond to notifications, your brain releases a tiny shot of dopamine. This shot gives you a pleasant feeling and stimulates your curiosity.
You instantly forget everything and turn your attention to the message.
The multitasking illusion
Some people think they can be multitaskers, but they are really shifting tasks and attention, which make them zero effective. This is why people are not efficient and make more mistakes.
Check your email only twice per day.
Double your productivity:
- Plan your day in advance.
- Select your most important task and work on it for 90 minutes.
- Then start again and do not get distracted.
Slice and dice the task
A major reason why we procrastinate is because it seems very large.
To prevent this, you can use The Salami Technique and slice the task in various parts. Start doing the first part for the time being.
Develop a compulsion to closure. You have deep within you a compulsion for closure. You feel happier and more powerful when you start and complete a task of any kind.
You satisfy a deep subconscious need when completing tasks. This triggers the release of endorphins.
Create large chunks of time
Most of the really important work you do requires large chunks of time to complete.
For example, successful business people take out large chunks of time to call prospects. Usually at least 1 hour.
Schedule big blocks of time by planning your day in advance.
Use a time planner broken down by day, hour and minute. One of the best ways to increase productivity is working from home for the first 2-3 hours of the day.
Key to high levels of productivity: make every minute count.
Think how you can consolidate and schedule large chunks of time.
Develop a sense of urgency
Most identifiable quality of successful people: they are action oriented.
Urgency + high value activities = success.
Getting into the flow is when you work on your high value activities continually with mental engagement. You can enter into an amazing mental state called flow. Almost everyone has experienced this at some time.
Successful people get into this state a lot more than the average person. Trigger high performance and the flow state by developing a sense of urgency. Keep going and race against yourself.
By doing this you develop a bias for action.
When you take regular action, you activate the momentum principle of success.
The faster you move, the more energy you have, and that means the more you can get done. Repeat to yourself the words: “DO IT NOW!” and “BACK TO WORK!”.
Nothing will help you more in your career than if you develop the reputation for being the kind of person that gets important work done quickly and effectively.
Single mindedly work on every task
Your ability to select your most important task, to begin it and then to concentrate on it single-mindedly until it is complete is the key to high levels of performance and productivity .
The tendency to stop start and stop a task can increase the time necessary to complete the task by as much as 500%.
Refuse to stop until the job is done.
Once you decide your main task, anything else you do other than that is a relative waste of time.
Self discipline is the key to developing the ability to make yourself do what you have to do whether you feel like it or no. This is so important to your continued success.
Success in any area requires tons of self discipline, self mastery and self control.
Starting a high priority task and persisting with that task until it is 100% complete is the truest test of your character, will power and resolve.
Persistance = self discipline.
How to Stop Procrastinating — A Conclusion
The key to happiness, satisfaction, success and a feeling of personal power is for you to develop the habit of eating your frog first thing every day when you start working.
This is a learnable skill you can acquire via repetition. Summary of the rules (Review them regularly!):
1. Set the table – decide what you want and write down your goals .
2. Plan every day in advance — think on paper.
3. Apply the 80/20 rule to everything.
4. Consider the consequences.
5. Practice creative procrastination — put off low value tasks.
6. Use the ABCDE method continually.
7. Focus on key result areas.
8. Apply the law of three.
9. Prepare before you begin.
10. Complete it one step at a time.
11. Upgrade your key skills.
12. Identify your key constraints and eliminate them.
13. Put the pressure on yourself.
14. Motivate yourself into action — always be optimistic.
15.Technology is a terrible master.
16. Technology is a wonderful servant.
17. Focus your attention — stop interruptions and distractions.
18. Slice and dice the tasks.
19. Create large chunks of time.
20. Develop a sense of urgency – move fast and do things quickly and well.
21. Single mindedly work on every task until completion.
Make a decision to practice these methods every day until they become an habit. You can thank me later. 🙂
I hope this guide has been instructional in learning how to stop procrastinating — how to get things done, be productive and make things happen.
Are there are productivity tips that I missed here? How do you motivate yourself to get things done? Let us know in the comments below.