“You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game!” – Mary Poppins
You might have guessed by now…I love a good ‘To-do’ list. The problem is there are always those jobs that get pushed to the bottom. You know the ones…The follow up emails…The tidying up your mess of an underwear drawer/wardrobe…The piles of paper to file or shred… The accounts to update… The dreaded Tax Return…All the boring stuff that I would file under ‘Adult-ing’.
A confession: I am a procrastinator.
I manage to fool people into thinking, I’m highly organised/super efficient/always well prepared. I have been likened to Mary Poppins herself. I am fairly organised but the fact is, unless I have a deadline looming, I am very good at faffing. The pressure of a deadline forces me into action and I always get things done… just in the nick of time. A classic example of this is when I was in the final term of my Music degree at University… There I was, fannying around perfecting each sentence of my dissertation at 7pm the night before it was due in…despite the fact that I had another 4000-word essay also due in the next day that I HADN’T STARTED!! I finished the dissertation at about 9pm and my amazing, wonderful, lovely housemates (who were much more organised than me), took it to the binders and then handed it in with theirs in the morning…while I pulled an all-nighter writing about Britten’s “Peter Grimes”…and somehow managed to get my boyfriend (now husband) to drive me to the Music department to hand it in… Just. In. Time. It was stressful but, I never doubted that I’d get it done. And it was good.
I hate to admit it, but for me, the fun is the deadline. I like playing the ‘last minute rush’ game in a lot of parts of my life. Interestingly, I don’t usually approach my performing work in this way because that is just too stressful…and it also has an impact on others…and I hate letting people down… But enough of the babbling already…
I do sometimes wish I could kick the ultra-procrastinator in me…and that’s when I binge-read articles about how not to procrastinate/manage your time effectively/be productive… yes, Rosie, great use of time. But I thought it’d be a fun to share a top five productivity ‘life hacks’ (I hate that I just wrote that…) that might help us all get motivated and… Get. Stuff. Done.
- Do the hardest task first:
There is an entire book written about this called “Eat That Frog!” by Brian Tracy… I haven’t read it but, I probably will when I’m next wanting to procrastinate by reading about procrastination. The concept is simple… You split your to-do list into categories…and then do them in this order –
- Things you need to do, but don’t really want to (These are the frogs…i.e. get the necessary but annoying crap to get out of the way ASAP)
- Things you need to and want to do (Less annoying jobs, with a deadline).
- Things you want to do, but don’t need to do (The good stuff).
- Things you don’t want to do and actually don’t need to do (Nothing should exist in this category… if you don’t want or need to do it…don’t do it…simple.)
I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this. I approach things this way when I have deadlines looming…But I get annoyed when the frog eating takes up an entire day and I don’t get to do anything fun. So I would…
- Try Bribing yourself:
That old carrot rather than stick approach…If you complete your tax return, you can eat a doughnut…that sort of thing.
- Get an accountability buddy:
If you are really struggling to complete a project/stick to an exercise regime/healthy eating plan…get someone to nag you about it…pick someone who you know will give you tough love…someone who will make you feel a bit guilty but won’t make you hate yourself.
- Turn off your phone.
I’m not very good at this one…but if I can do it when I’m in a rehearsal or class then why can’t I do it when I have boring admin to do? Because… YouTube. Just turn off the wifi and put your phone on aeroplane mode for an hour or so… get some stuff done… Your reward can be 30 minutes of watching cat videos… I would recommend ‘Thriller Cats’, ‘Cats on a Treadmill’ and the Buzzfeed ‘Dear Kitten’ series. You’re welcome.
- What can you do in 15 minutes?
Set a stopwatch and see how many little jobs you can get done in 15 minutes. Watching cat videos does not count as a job…neither does watching clips of Julie Andrews…but I’m still trying to kid myself about that one.