The one where I avoid procrastination and get stuff done.
Here's a transcript of the show...
Hello and welcome to episode 11 of the Creative Me podcast. Thank you so much for joining me.
Before I get started with today's topic, I just wanted to let you know that I've opened an online stationery shop (update: the shop is no longer open).
Incidentally, if you ever forget how to spell "stationery", the way to remember is "E is for envelopes". Stationery with an "ERY" refers to the paper/pens/envelopes type of stationery. Anyway, enough spelling tips, let's get on with the show.
What Do You Mean, Avoid Procrastination?
Today we're talking about procrastination. Procrastination is the art (well it's not really an art!) the action of delaying or postponing something. You know the sort of thing I'm talking about! We all do it.
Today I'm going to share five top tips for avoiding procrastination. In other words, five top tips for getting things done.
My first tip is to break large tasks into smaller chunks.
This probably sounds quite obvious because breaking something down into smaller chunks is going to make it seem more manageable. But even when you break something into chunks, you still have to start the first chunk, then move on to the second. So make the first chunk small. REALLY small. Make the first step easy.
For example, if you've got to do your tax returns, your first step is actually just getting your tax file off the shelf. It's all a mind game and if you can get that first little step done, that easy step, it will lead to the second and the third and fourth. Thank you so much to Robert Bree from the Seanwes community who got chatting to me on this particular topic this morning.
I use the app Workflowy for outlining my tasks. Workflowy is amazing because it allows me to create a huge list and then isolate individual tasks. So for anyone who has a bit of trouble with procrastination and wants to break things into manageable chunks, I highly recommend Workflowy.
2. Remove Distractions
Allow yourself the luxury of focusing on at a time. I use the Freedom app for getting rid of the distraction of social media.
Noise cancelling headphones are a good idea if you are in an office with lots of people. Even if you're not listening to music it sends a signal to those around you that you really have got to get on with what you're doing. It puts you in a bit of a bubble and gives you the best chance of getting stuff done.
3. Short Deadlines
My procrastination is at its worst when I don't have a solid deadline for something, or my deadline is a long way away. Remember school? You always knew exams were coming on a certain date but of course it was miles away so you didn't revise until a few days a week before...
According to Parkinson's Law, things will grow to fill the time you allot them. For example, meetings. If you schedule a one hour meeting, it will last an hour, even though perhaps you only needed 20 minutes. With that in mind, if you need to get something done, perhaps setting your own short deadlines is the way forward.
A good technique for managing short bursts of effort is the Pomodoro Technique. One Pomodoro is a 20 minute block (correction, 25 minute block) of time. You break down your task into Pomodoro chunks and allocate a certain number of Pomodoros to it. Set a timer for each Pomodoro and take a 5 minute break inbetween.
4. Get Accountable
Publicly declare what you will do and when you will do it. I do this through my email list. I have small but engaged list of people who I write to on a weekly basis.
Incidentally, I'd love it if you signed up. I will add a form to the end of the show notes.
In every email, I reflect on the week that has just gone and I look forward to the week to come. I explain what I'm going to do and what my aims are. I encourage my subscribers to reply and do the same.
Not everyone has the luxury of an email list to correspond with, so perhaps another way to do this is through an accountability partner. An accountability partner somebody you chat to regularly about what you've done and what you plan to do. I talked about this in an earlier episode.
My accountability partner is Jo. We chat once a month via FaceTime, but actually throughout the month we chat on Slack so we continually keep each other accountable. In our monthly FaceTime calls we have an agenda and action points on Google Docs - this works really well.
5. Quick Wins
My fifth top tip for avoiding procrastination comes from a friend, and member of my email subscriber list, Sarah-Jayne. She's a very creative lady and runs a donkey factory (handmade donkeys, not actual donkeys!)
I was chatting to Sarah-Jayne about procrastination and she told me about a little something she does with her husband to get stuff done. When they feel like they've been procrastinating a bit, they make a list of "quick wins". These are things that they can do quickly and easily, without procrastinating, and they know they can feel really really good after doing those things. What a great idea.
Right, that's it from me for now. I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you've got any top tips on avoiding procrastination please feel free to share them in the comments.
(Update: I am using Instagram Stories, rather than Snapchat, now, so please feel free to connect with me over there: martineeellis).
Also don't forget to sign up to my email list to get weekly emails about creativity, productivity and all sorts of fab things like that.
Thanks so much for tuning in. I'll check in with you next week
PS: Please excuse some of the pop sounds in this episode - I am getting a pop shield to combat the issue.