We should probably learn after the first few times that it isn’t a good process to leave things until the last minute, but we still keep on doing it. Putting off gym to finish off a large bag of crisps is a classic example. You let your impulses take over, rather than working towards the more favourable payoff.
The immediate payoffs are incredibly hard to resist. It’s similar to jumping on social media instead of writing an article or essay. If you get the essay out of the way now you will feel much better for it, so why would you want to delay that sense of satisfaction? Here are five ways that will try to help you stay on track:
1. Pomodoro technique
This technique is best for those who work in short productive bursts. Try working in 25-minute intervals with a short five-minute break in between. Then after four sessions, give yourself a longer 25-minute break as a reward.
2. Parkinson’s law
Parkinson’s law introduces the idea of work only filling the time you allow it to. So try using a medium to short period of time before the submission date to complete your task. This will allow you to focus entirely on the problem at hand, rather than allowing distraction to seep in over a longer period of time.
3. Pareto principle
The Pareto principle promotes the idea that only 20% of your time is used to reach important goals. So if you can complete your important task in only 20% of your time, it gives you the incentive to not waste any of it. If you think you’re not in the situation to be productive (i.e. tired), leave it to a time where you are fully energised. Use your most alert time to tackle the most challenging tasks.
4. Quadrant method
In the Quadrant method, aka the Eisenhower method, you categorise your tasks into four quadrants. The first two rows are labelled ‘important’ and ‘not important’, and the two columns are labelled ‘urgent’ and ‘not urgent’. Once your tasks are categorised, focus on the urgent and important tasks, then gradually work through the rest in your own time.
5. Time chunking
Time chunking is a concept that promotes flexibility with your work time. Try dedicating certain parts of the week to certain tasks. You can even add ‘waste time’ as a category so you can do all of the things that would normally distract you. You are in control of what you do with this method; you decide how you spend your time rather than procrastinating.
Read and comment on the original Lifehack article.