Let me throw down a scenario for you.
You’re having the best dream of your life and you think your dryness may be compromised. You wake up and instinctively reach for your cell phone to check the time.
It’s 9:07am. Shit.
You are stricken with panic.
You’re late for class, you didn’t finish your paper or study for your exam, both are due today, and you’ve got personal hygiene to consider before you make your way out the door. Can’t leave looking like Sasquatch.
You get through this day eventually but not without a lot of stress and explicit language to go around. In the end you swear that it will never happen again but the worst part is that 3 weeks later… it happens again.
Does this sound like a familiar story from your college experience? Or how about a day of work where you burned a little too much of that midnight oil the night before?
We’ve all been there at one time or another.
If you want to learn how to change this let me ask you: besides telling yourself you’ll change, what have you actually done to ensure change takes place?
Telling yourself it won’t happen again without a plan of action is setting yourself up for future mistakes, stress, and self-loathing at the next occurrence.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the cycle of procrastination it’s that talk is cheap. Cliché? Yes. Do I care? No.
It’s not that you’re dishonest or don’t have the best intentions. No, it’s simply that without an active plan in place human behavior doesn’t simply change. We are creatures of habit (I’m sorry, I did the cliché thing again).
What’s the good news? These habits can easily be changed by taking real action.
That sounds great Garik, but what is “real” action? Allow me to throw it down for you.
1. Do something different. Clearly what you’ve been doing isn’t working so decide on something different you can try and do that. And if that doesn’t work keep trying different strategies until one sticks.
For example, if you’re not getting enough sleep then make a plan to get more sleep. Set a curfew for yourself and remind yourself by writing it down or setting up daily reminders.
This sounds really simple, and it is, but these little tricks are the secret to habit change. Smart people and stupid people alike have problems with organization and changing bad habits.
The secret isn’t intelligence; it’s tricking yourself into getting things done and making these changes. That’s it.
Some other ideas are to start working on your tasks a day before you normally would start them, use a different method of getting organized if your current one is failing, have uninterrupted and undisturbed work time, or find a new quiet place to work.
These are just a few ideas: get creative and figure out what works for you.
2. Get organized. How are you currently organizing your priorities and is that working for you?
If you’re having trouble keeping your priorities straight and staying on top of deadlines it’s probably time to change some things.
While technology has brought us tons of new distractions, it’s also brought us tons of new ways to get organized.
Here’s a few suggestions:
This website and cell phone app allows you to make a free account and add tasks with setup reminders. You can be reminded of tasks days or hours in advance, and can be reminded via text or email.
This is super convenient and useful, and if you really like it there is a paid version which has additional features.
- Google Calendars
Like any calendar you can use this to stay on top of your priorities. Some of the advantages to this one are the ability to have it on your phone and computer, synced in all places, and you can easily add tasks anytime and get reminders when they are due.
- Apps for distractions
You can manage distractions yourself by putting away your phone and only focusing on the task at hand but most of us will get distracted and end up checking our email 50,000 times a day. Ugh!
An easy way to avoid this is use apps for distraction elimination. These apps can allow you to set timers to work 40 minutes, break for 10 minutes, etc. They also allow you to prevent access to browsing, email, and other distractions while you are working.
Here are a few good ones:
- Self Control (Mac)
This free app allows you to block distracting websites, mail servers, or anything on the Internet for specified periods of time. This will continue to work even if you shut down your computer or delete the app.
- Cold Turkey (Windows)
This free software blocks websites and applications, allows you to set time limits, and lets you assign built in breaks. This one will be undone if you restart your computer.
- Stay Focusd (App or Extension for Google Chrome)
This free program will shut down your computer when you visit certain websites or certain types of content, such as videos. This boosts productivity by preventing you from browsing, visiting Facebook, or any other distracting use of the Internet that you want to block.
- Freedom (Windows, Mac, & Android)
This is free and disables Internet for specified periods of time so you can focus. This app is very popular with many people vouching for its simplicity and aid in boosting productivity.
- Focus (Mac)
This has a free trial or is $19.99 to purchase. Focus allows different settings for different tasks such as writing, managing social media, etc. You can set which apps to block and which to allow during each setting, and it also includes a timer which times and tracks your activities.
- Performance, Feedback, Revision.
First check out this video of Baba Brinkman (No you don’t have a choice, it’s a requirement for this lesson).
Now you must be wondering what evolution has to do with organization. Quite simply, this is the same process you use to improve in literally anything.
When you hit the wall again with your projects or deadlines, pause and reflect.
Ask yourself what’s working for you and what could be better. Improve where you need to by trying new techniques, getting more organized, getting more sleep, or any positive change you want to test.
Implement these improvements and be prepared to evaluate your progress after some time.
Remember: performance, feedback, revision.
If you continue this process you’ll be a productivity super star and continually improving and evolving person.
Did you find this post helpful? Or is there anything you want to know more about? Leave me a comment, I read every one.