Tick tock, tick tock.
Is that the sound of another Friday afternoon slipping slowly through your fingertips?
How many tasks did you set yourself on Monday to be completed by today? And how many have you shoved under the carpet never to be mentioned again?
It’s okay, I’ve got entire projects that practically live under the carpet. I believe that’s what Josef Fritzl said, so please, allow me to explain myself quickly!
Procrastination has always been a great enemy of mine. I thought I was bad when I worked in an office. But since I started working from home, the distractions have been inching towards me from practically every corner.
I can find distraction in wet paint if it snaps me away from the task at hand.
I believe it’s particularly true that if you give yourself 5 minutes to complete a task, it will take 5 minutes, and if you give yourself 20 minutes, it will take 20 minutes. Our to-do lists seem to expand to encapsulate as much of the time we’re willing to lend them.
It’s the reason why we feel such an unusual high when we actually manage to complete a chore well within the deadline. That’s your expectations screwing with you. It doesn’t feel right, does it?
There is, however, an excellent method of taking the fight back to procrastination. And it can be achieved with something as simple as an egg timer. Those of you thriving in the digital age, feel free to upgrade to your mobile apps and desktop countdown tools.
Why Procrastination Hates A Tight Deadline
Procrastination exists by occupying the vacuum in our days when we’re failing to take action. If we get sidetracked, or simply can’t focus on our immediate goals, we fall in to the vacuum and have to work twice as hard to fight our way out.
You’ve probably seen first hand that even if you’re working excellently for several hours, it may only take a lunch break or a distracting phone call to tug you away from full concentration.
The best way to regain focus is to immediately turn over the egg timer, or switch on the countdown, and impose a strict deadline on what you’re trying to achieve – even if it’s as simple as giving yourself exactly 5 minutes to reply to the email you’ve been putting off since 1pm.
This may seem like a futile gesture, but the sight of time running out has a remarkable effect on our ability to inject urgency and focus in to our work.
Sir Alex Ferguson has the skill down to a fine art. How many times have Manchester United scored winning goals in the 94th minute?
Too many times if I’m being honest. But there’s a perfectly valid explanation for this. We raise our games when time is slipping away from us. We condense tasks to fit in to tightened deadlines while convincing ourselves that we’ve achieved something spectacular when we manage to achieve them.
It’s hardly a miracle. It’s actually just harnessing the potential that most of us choose to leave dormant until it’s bordering on too late. And that’s the excuse I’m sticking to for why pretty much every piece of coursework I ever submitted through high school was slapped together the night before it was due. I clearly had plenty of self control, just not enough egg timers.
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