Annual goals, weekly plans and daily to-do lists are always made with much gusto. We move ahead with a clear idea of how our modus operandi should be. But then, we get consumed by one of our most deceptive enemies – procrastination. As deadlines loom closer, it drains the pro out of our desired productivity. Our schedules come crashing down like a house of cards.
Before adopting strategies to combat procrastination, let’s look at what really causes it. Psychologists say that this tendency, at its core, stems from fear of not being ready to accomplish something we desire. It is a form of mental protection, which kicks in as soon as we reach beyond our comfort zones. Though in principle this is a good thing, we often allow ourselves to flow with however this subconscious process manifests. And the buck stops right there. Nevertheless, millions of dedicated professionals have mined through this, and we have a lot to fall back upon to counter this mysterious force.
One of the most popular productivity hacks is Merlin’s (10+2)*5 formula. This is a simple calculation to balance work and play! For every 10 mins of work you do, give yourself a 2 min break. Repeat this sequence 5 times to complete a big chunk of work. As you get used to this rhythm and train your mind, you can even increase the time. For example, taking a 3 minute break for every 15 minutes of dedicated work done. You won’t even feel the need to distract yourself. iPhone even has an app for this one.
In congruence with Merlin’s hack, is the act of lining up mini tasks. The urge to push work away is stronger, when the tasks are large, challenging or time consuming. Go right ahead and break a big goal into several small tasks, which can each be completed in short periods of time. You can feel proud checking numerous mini tasks off your list. Winning, right?
Further reiterating the idea of chunking and timing of tasks, is Parkinson’s Law, which states that ‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’. Simply put, a task only takes as much time as we assign to it. More often than not, we over-estimate time needs, which further gets fuelled by procrastination. Thus, something that could take an hour, ends up taking four! That is where the practice of mini-tasks and Merlin’s hack are priceless!
At the end of the day, as much as we desire efficiency, we need to be aware of our rational mind and its abilities. Strategies are no use if we talk ourselves out of tasks with excuses that makes sense only to us. Our invitation to you is to pierce through all ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, and knock procrastination out of the park. We know you can. You know you can!