Time management can be tough when you have an endless amount of tasks and a limited amount of hours. It can be equally hard to get things done when you have few things to do and long swaths of time. Usually, you just end up mindlessly surfing the Internet or checking out what is happening on Facebook instead of staying on task. Procrastination can feel like an impossible habit to break. Time seems to just slip away from you, whether you have a lot or a little to do. As an entrepreneur who works at home, this can become one of your major challenges that keeps you from success.
One thing I learned from Bob Proctor years ago was the fact that you can’t manage time, just activities…I had to really think about that. However, it is so true, time ticks by, you can’t stop it, but you DO have total control over your activities.
How can you regain control of your time and be more productive? A few tips are obvious. Keeping a planner and a to-do list can help you keep track of what you need to accomplish. What’s still missing is the motivation factor.
The esteemed British author Douglass Adams once said, “I like deadlines. I like the sound they make as they go whooshing by”. Many people say that deadlines are great, that they put the pressure on to get you working. Deadlines are great in theory, but Adams quite cleverly points out the problem with them. The problem with traditional deadlines is that they only give you an end point. This leaves huge amounts of time unplanned and unstructured up until the hour before the deadline, when the panic starts to kick in. It makes it too easy to leave a project to the last minute and fall into apathy when you fail to complete something on time.
Let’s turn the concept of a deadline on its head. Try giving yourself a deadline for starting a task rather than finishing it. If a planner and to-do list is the key, then creating a deadline for starting a task is turning the lock and opening the door. Starting deadlines are a powerful tool.
When you have a task to do, like outlining a project, writing a blog post, or composing an article, declare to the world (out loud if you must), “By such and such a time I will begin such and such a project!” There, you said it! Now you are bound to this expectation of starting one of your tasks.
Even if you truly are overwhelmed with projects and assignments, it doesn’t matter. Feeling overwhelmed can often cause procrastination. Simply pick the first thing on your to-do list (and you know I love to priorize that to do list every day) and declare a time when you absolutely must begin it.
This works just as well for tasks around the home. Deciding “at 6:00 exactly, I will prepare dinner” or “I will put my laundry in the machine in ten minutes from now” keeps you committed to the task at hand. It is surprising how much starting something is so much more effective than thinking about how it needs to be done, which is exactly what a traditional deadline does.
Making deadlines to begin something rather than just finish something is a terrific way to tackle procrastination head on. Keep track of what you need to do, and simply decide when you need to start.