Step 1 – Get honest with yourself.
This step is hard for most people. It can be difficult to admit that you’re not focused – but it’s essential to get real about the situation. This isn’t about judging yourself or beating yourself up. Your goal is to be more efficient and more productive, so take a deep breath and ask, “Where am I procrastinating or getting distracted?”
Make a list of the projects that you seem to avoid. Pause and notice when you feel the urge to goof off on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other diversions. Notice what you are working on when you get distracted. In contrast, think about what you are working on when you get in the flow. When does time seem to fly by? You can use this evaluation to become more aware of your work habits.
Step 2 – Keep a time journal so that you see exactly where your time is being spent.
For the next week, set an alarm on your smartphone or calendar to alert you every hour. When you hear the alarm, stop and list everything that you have done in the last hour. What projects did you work on? What distracted you? What time wasting activities have you indulged in?
Remember, no judgment! You’re not beating yourself up, just noticing. At the end of the week, you should have a good idea of where you waste time. You’ll also see your patterns. You’ll learn when you are most likely to get distracted.
Step 3 – Resolve to make a change.
Make the decision that you will stay focused on the task at hand. Set a goal and set yourself up for success by creating accountability and a supportive environment.
Your goal should take into account where you’re starting from. Don’t expect to be focused for eight solid hours if you can only manage one hour now. Start by focusing for an additional hour and work your way up.
Creating accountability for yourself is critical. My private clients enjoy access to an accountability system that requires them to post a list of everything that they accomplished in a day. This daily exercise helps to develop better habits, keeps you motivated and encourages you to stay focused.
Set your environment up for success by making it difficult to get distracted. Turn off your phone ringers if you aren’t expecting a call. Turn off your notification settings so that you aren’t tempted to check every email that comes in. Log out of your email if it’s not a designated time to review your messages.
Step 4 – Develop a trigger to get you back on track when you get distracted.
Keep an eye on the clock! Plan to work for a set period of time. You can even set a timer to help you stay on track. After you have completed working for that time period, take a short break using the timer to remind you to get started again. Make sure you stop frequently to avoid burnout. Some experts recommend taking a brief 2-3 minute break every 25-30 minutes and a 15-30 minute break every two hours.
Step 5 – Review your results and make changes.
As with any goal, check-in regularly on your progress and make the necessary tweaks. Your plan isn’t set in stone, so adjust as needed. Your needs will change as you build your efficiency muscles and end your procrastination habits.
Use your check-in to reward yourself for the progress you have made. It’s easier to stick to a plan and follow through when you have something to look forward to.
If you are a procrastinator, you aren’t doomed to failure. Follow these steps and you’ll be efficient and focused in no time!
Your “Take Action” Plan for This Week:
So what are you going to do? We would love to hear how you will be getting down to business.
P.S. From Catherine: If you are enjoying Sydni’s posts, you might want to check out her free webinar this week (affiliate link) to help you get organized, find the resources you need and get things done. Just the thing for busy small biz owners!