Sometimes, you need to place yourself in “airplane mode”
Task management is difficult at the best of times. In a fast-paced digital world, how can we be expected to give our undivided attention to projects when myriad distractions are coming at us from all angles?
In the digital age where we’re bombarded with communication and information from all angles, the only way to truly give your undivided attention to a task is by putting your phone on aeroplane mode, which is easier said than done.
For those of us who need help in ignoring our distractions to thrive at task management, we’ve created a list of 9 key tips to help you survive. Now put down Twitter for a moment, you’re about to learn how to get the better of procrastination and become a star at completing tasks.
1. Brace yourself for curveballs
The path to task completion is rarely ever as easy as it seems in concept. If you’re someone who baulks at complications, keep yourself braced for drawbacks.
By keeping aware of the possibility for curveballs, you’ll be better equipped to overcome them if, and when, they happen. By visualising what could go wrong, you may also be able to prevent such errors from happening in the first place. Communication is often key here, and by describing potential drawbacks to colleagues, you may find them able to offer preemptive solutions, too.
2. Treat yourself for finishing tasks
Everybody loves to be rewarded for their efforts, so what’s stopping you from recognising your own achievements with a little present from yourself?
By telling yourself that you can treat yourself upon completing a task, or a significant part of a task, you’ll immediately become more motivated to get the job done. It could be as simple as getting yourself an up-market lunch, or allowing a few hours in the evening to catch up with your favourite series. You’ll be amazed at your productivity once you throw rewards into the mix.
3. Break your tasks down
A lot of procrastination is down to fears of the size of the task at hand. But you can counter this by breaking your work down into its components. If you’re running an outreach marketing campaign to a deadline, allocate some time to researching your targets, then into designing a template for your outreach, and then the physical job of implementing your campaign.
Devolving your work into three manageable chunks provides you with great perspective as well as making it appear much more straightforward. For instance, if you’re looking to start a new website, it’s worthwhile breaking down the project into 3 or more tasks, such as planning and research, coming up with a design and name, and finally building the site. This approach ensures that you’re not trying to solve all problems at once, yet still moving towards your ultimate goal step-by-step.
4. Don’t turn your work into a balancing act
Multitasking is a poisoned chalice — even for those who claim to be proficient in the art of juggling their work. By concentrating on different tasks, or different aspects of the same task, at the same time then you’re at risk of losing focus and neglecting your work.
Make sure that you prioritise your time for one task and stick to it. If somebody tells you that they’re good at multitasking, then the odds are that they aren’t doing their job to the best of their abilities.
5. Get the hardest tasks out of the way first
It’s another Achilles’ heel of procrastinators everywhere. By leaving the hardest tasks until last, you’re never fully free of the fear throughout your work.
By getting the largest tasks out of the way with first, you not only gain a better understanding of your work, but you can approach your follow-up work safe in the knowledge that it won’t be as much of a behemoth as the task you began with.
Take some time to size up your tasks, and maybe even set yourself up with a mini reward for completing your most fearsome work first – possibly try that new burger at McDonald’s, or check Twitter, or have a Pokemon Go break; whatever floats your boat – but come back ready for more business.
6. Make sure you’re on the same wavelength as your colleagues
Communication in your line of work is no doubt essential, and it’s the same story when task management comes with added teamwork.
It could be as simple as keeping your colleagues or employees aware of your actions, or clearly delegating their tasks to them, or being ready and able to troubleshoot any issues they may have. If you simply get on with your job without communicating, then you’re setting yourself up for costly misunderstandings. If one employee mistakenly picks up another employee’s work, then you could potentially have lost hours of output.
7. Use technology to help you along
Some of the more resilient procrastinators among us benefit from the soothing help of technology bearing the burden of retaining information or keeping organised.
There’re plenty of tools that aim to make task management as stress-free as possible with their synchronisable and multiple-user technology. It’s via these tools that you can set up Timers, Gantt Chart and ‘To-Do’ lists that help you view your tasks and allocate team members to complete them, as well as arranging your goals by priority levels and set up alerts for your work.
8. Plan your process out with deadlines
Keep in touch with the task at hand by setting out regular deadlines and sticking to them. By allocating yourself time to spend on your work, you can monitor your progress and pace.
If you go into a project without knowing how long to spend on each facet, you run the risk of spending either too much or too little time working on a task.
Online time management tools can help you with this.
9. Kick distractions to the curb
This is a big one for procrastinators everywhere. Distractions are prime killers of productivity, and in the 21st Century there sure are a lot of distractions to deal with.
Whether it’s a constant stream of messages and notifications on your mobile phone, the television in the background, or the urge to open a new tab on your browser to check the latest news – you need to exert the willpower to focus on the task at hand.
There are a few tips and tricks to help you along the way, though. Switching your phone on to aeroplane mode (or turning it off completely, of course) helps, and you can even download software that blocks and filters those distracting websites for a set amount of time.
So now there should be nothing stopping you from overcoming your habit of procrastination, go out there and get things done!
Editor’s note: e27 publishes relevant guest contributions from the community. Share your honest opinions and expert knowledge by submitting your content here.
Featured Image: 123RF