7 Tips to Help Overcome Procrastination

I was planning to write this post last week, but I put it off. 

Okay, now that the obligatory bad joke is out of the way, we can look at another internal time waster, procrastination.

We all put things off. We hope to avoid tasks that are boring, difficult, unpleasant, etc. When faced with something we don’t want to do, we can find a dozen tasks of no consequence to fill our time.

We secretly hope that, by procrastinating, the unpleasant task will shrink and go away. Unfortunately, the reverse is often true; the deferred job just gets bigger and more difficult.

Overcoming procrastination requires strategy. The next time you’re tempted to put off something you don’t want to do, try some of these tips:

  1. Set a deadline – a task without a deadline can be put off indefinitely. Set a date and stick to it.
  2. Set up a reward system – make it commensurate with the task. An afternoon cleaning out the garage is worth dinner out, while a 14 month software roll-out might warrant a tropical vacation.
  3. Arrange for a follow-up – assign someone to be a “nag-buddy”. Give them permission to check in periodically to make sure you’re staying on track.
  4. Do it first – tackle difficult jobs early in the day, when you have the most energy.
  5. Break the task into small pieces – if the whole seems too big to tackle, break it into manageable sub-tasks.
  6. Avoid over-thinking – Doubts will arise for even the most confident of people and doubt can lead to procrastination. Try doubting your doubts.
  7. Do it now – don’t put if off any longer. Sometimes you just have to jump in and get it done.

Procrastination Quotations

  • Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James
  • Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. ~Don Marquis
  • There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back. ~Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
  • You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin
  • Someday is not a day of the week. ~Author Unknown
  • Don’t fool yourself that important things can be put off till tomorrow; they can be put off forever, or not at all. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
  • Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. ~Victor Kiam
  • The best way to get something done is to begin. ~Author Unknown
  • Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. ~Spanish Proverb
  • Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer
  • Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man. ~Jimmy Lyons
  • A year from now you may wish you had started today. ~Karen Lamb
  • Procrastination is the thief of time. ~Edward Young

8 Common Time Wasters

Over the years, I’ve posted some thoughts on behaviours and practices that can get in the way of our productivity. To help bring some of these forwarded, this post will link to past articles, as well as adding some new material on common time-wasters.

I’ve broken these time-wasters into two groups. Internal are those things which we generate. External are those things that come at us from outside sources: both types can be controlled.

Internal:

  1. Disorganization
  2. Procrastination
  3. Inability to say no
  4. Attitude

External:

  1. Uninvited visitors
  2. Incoming communication
  3. Unproductive meetings
  4. Waiting

How to be an Effective Mentor

Mentoring can be one of the most effective means of teaching: inviting someone to learn from the example of another with more experience. Whether through apprenticeships, internships or less-formal relationships, walking alongside an experienced practitioner can impart essential skills, attitudes and knowledge.

Being a mentor doesn’t mean having all the answers to every question. A good mentor know which questions to ask to stimulate development in their protégeé.

Some of the questions mentors ask:

  • What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
  • How can I help you?
  • Where are your skills being tested?
  • Where is your character being tested?
  • How is your relationship/communication style effecting what you are trying to accomplish?
  • What are some new things you could try?
  • What are some things that would help you to have more integrity?
  • What challenges have you faced and what were some of the effects of those challenges?
  • How has that shaped who you are?
  • How can you use your past to prepare you for the future?
  • Even though things haven’t worked out as you’d hoped, what are you learning from that?
  • As you assess your growth, where do you see yourself right now?

Free Google Tools for Your Non-Profit

Did you know that Google offers a suite of tools to qualified non-profits? These are premium, licensed Google products , but at no cost. These products can help your organization reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your non-profit’s story. They are cloud-based tools, managed by Google, which may help reduce your IT costs.

Google for Nonprofits includes Google Apps for Nonprofits, Google Ad Grants, YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Earth Pro. Canadian registered charities, Federal nonprofits and Provincial nonprofits may be eligible to apply for the program. Please note, some types of organizations are not eligible and will not be verified:

  • Governmental entities or organizations
  • Hospitals and healthcare organizations
  • Schools, academic institutions, or universities

A quick summary of the products offered*:

G Suite for Nonprofits

Enable your teams to collaborate, iterate, and innovate together, from anywhere, in real time, with our cloud-based productivity suite.

Google Ad Grants

Receive in-kind advertising for your nonprofit through Google Search and increase awareness worldwide.

YouTube Nonprofit Program

Share your nonprofit videos through YouTube to better connect with supporters, volunteers, and donors. 

Google Earth and Maps

Bring your nonprofit’s story to life with custom maps and global location data.

One Today

Build nonprofit fundraising campaigns that tie supporters’ donations to their impact, making it easy for them to give at any level.

Steps to Access Google for Nonprofits

How does a nonprofit apply for the program? Head over to Google for Nonprofits.

  • Confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements
  • Request a Google for Nonprofits account
  • Once your nonprofit is verified, you’ll be notified by email
  • Then you can activate and use the individual products

In Canada, TechSoup manages the eligibility process, and validate your organization’s legal status and activities. If you’re looking for more detail in the process, click through to their Google for Nonprofits FAQ page.

Many small charities and non-profits don’t have the staff or budget for building the technology structure needed to create a strong digital strategy. Google for Nonprofits allows organizations of all sizes to benefit from great tools that aid with targeted advertising, donor acquisition, organizational productivity, and much more.

Check it out.

*not all products are available in all countries

7 Ways to Get More Done

  1. Work with a clean desk – A study on productivity found that, “The average desk worker has 36 hours worth of work on their desk and wastes up to 3 hours a week just ‘looking’ for STUFF!” Clean your desk to work more effectively.
  2. Keep a time log – It is a good idea to analyze your use of time. Periodically select a typical week and gather data on your daily routine. Look at the data for areas where you could improve your use of time and develop an action plan to make the improvements.
  3. Use a to-do list – Some people use a To-Do list which they complete last thing in the day or first thing in the morning. Some people combine a To-Do list with a calendar or schedule. Others prefer a “running” To-Do list which is continuously being updated. There are a number of ways to keep a To-Do list. Pick the method that works best for you.
  4. Set your priorities – When you have to choose which task on your to-do list to address next, compare the relevant importance of the tasks. For example, “Which is more important for me to do right now? Maintaining client relationships or marketing the business?”
  5. Delegate effectively – You can’t do everything yourself. Even Superman needed Jimmy Olsen. Learn to discern those things that you must do from those that can be done more effectively by someone else; both in the office and at home.
  6. Use the 80:20 Rule – The 80-20 Rule was originally postulated by the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He noted that 80 percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort. The trick is to isolate and identify the 20 percent. Once identified, prioritise time to concentrate your work on those items with the greatest reward.
  7. Relax – You don’t have an endless supply of energy and drive. Now and again you need to take some time to re-charge your batteries.

4 Tips to Trap Your Inner Pack Rat

A while ago, I got a new desk for my office. I figured that making room for new furniture was a good opportunity, to not only clean out my desk, but to go through everything in my office.

It seems I am more of a pack rat than I realized. I found documents going back 8+ years. The office was passed overdue for a cleaning.

Are you a pack rat; either at work or at home? Here’s some tips to help break the hoarding habit.

1) Take Inventory

Take a tour of the space you are organizing and take inventory all of your stuff. Look in cabinets, closets, bookshelves, storage containers, the garage, etc. Do you have things you haven’t used in a year or more? Ask yourself, will I use that item again? If the answer is maybe, get rid of it. Call The Salvation Army, recycle it or pass it on to someone who can use it.

2) Share your information

I save books and magazines long after I’ve read them. I find one article I’d like to reference in the future and I hang onto the whole magazine.

If you’re like that, tear out the article, recipe, instructions, etc. and file it in an organized system. I’m going one step further by scanning any such material and storing it electronically, which eliminates the paper altogether.

Recycle those that you don’t plan on reading or using again. Donate them to a local charity, a school, hospital or retirement home, where others can enjoy and learn from your books.

3) Don’t become the Pickle-Jar Guy

Do you know someone who has a garage filled with empty jars because they are going to use them someday? Empty containers make great storage, but how many do you need? If you have more than five or six empty containers stuck in a cabinet or closet collecting dust, add it to the recycling.

4) Ask the key question

‘Is my life going to change if I get rid of this thing?’ Almost always, the answer is, ‘No’. Marie Kondo has created this idea, if an object no longer “sparks joy” for us, it should be discarded. While I have a problem with the idea that our possessions should spark joy, the basic principle is a good one. Why do we hang on to things? Is it nostalgia, fear of offending family or friends, or some other reason. If you’re not using it, and it’s taking up space, get rid of it.

5) Look for the best was to rearrange the space 

After all your clutter and junk is out the door and you have a better idea of what will be left in your space, look around and rethink your layout. Maybe there’s a better way to configure the room, especially if you make good use of wall space. One good rule of thumb is, the more you use something, the closer it should be to you. Lastly, consider how you want to come off to others in the room. For example, a more open layout can give the impression of having earned more space and, therefore, power; or positioning a desk so it’s not between you and clients can seem more inviting.

6) Review weekly

You’ve got your space cleared and reorganized, it needs to be maintained. When you declutter every week, you ensure your space does not fall back to its previous state. Not only is this good for the space but it is great for your mind as well. Having a weekly declutter process will develop a sense of achievement as you maintain a clean and efficient workspace.

Learn more, do more, become more