You sit down on your chair with your laptop open in front of you. You stare at the screen determined to complete the big project ahead. You read the instruction that says it is due in the next 3 weeks.
‘Great,’ you think to yourself proudly that you’re starting something in advance. You giggle internally thinking about the fact that you’re not cramming the night before for an assignment to be completed.
Hold on, you just remembered you have a bunch of text messages you forgot to reply to and your friend Jessica is urgently asking if you’re free on Saturday morning to catch up. I’ll just quickly reply to her message and then I can start working on my big project.
Suddenly, you open up your Gmail account to a bunch of unread emails so you compulsively read and reply to all of them. 45 minutes has passed. You begin to feel a light weight of regret but not enough to weigh you down. You calmly reassure yourself you have plenty of time.
Two weeks down the track, you’ve cleaned just about every corner in the house, ran other errands, gone shopping, finished the book you’ve been meaning to finish for a while and have choked down on about 12 shots of espresso equating to all the people that have been demanding to catch up with you.
Sounds like a productive two weeks right? In retrospect, you know you are very well wrong. You start from the beginning where you were sitting two weeks ago and not a single thing has been done for your big project. Does this sound familiar? It may be a case of confusing productivity with procrastination.
Productivity is using your time well by doing what you ought at that particular time. Therefore, doing a bunch of things doesn’t really equate to productivity if you don’t really need to be doing that one thing at that particular time.
Ask yourself … can this wait? Does this take precedence over what I really need to be doing at this time, right now?
Just some practical pointers:
- Order your list of things to do via their due date
- Figure out how long it will take to do each thing so you can space out your time well. FYI, it is a good idea to always give yourself 25% more time than you think you will need. As a journalism student, my past tutors have always encouraged this.
- Have a lot of visual and audial reminders. My desk is spammed with sticky notes because I can tell you I am a ridiculously forgetful person. Those same reminders on sticky notes are also in my day planner as well as on my phone. Use alarms when necessary.
- Plan your week and/or month in advance to avoid double-booking.
- Make it a daily habit to look at your to-do lists regularly – in the morning, at night or whenever it suits you best.
- Don’t run away from what really needs to be done.
“The more we run from a problem, the more we’re actually running into it.”
– Pico Iyer
SO… may you all have many productive days ahead of you starting from today.