If you’re a chronic procrastinator, then you’ll absolutely love the technique I’m about to share with you. And if you only procrastinate occasionally (don’t kid yourself, everybody procrastinates from time to time), I’m sure you’ll still find great value by implementing this technique as part of your productivity master plan.
Does this scenario seem a little too familiar?
You go to work in the morning, switch on your computer, and start checking your emails. You go through your inbox, reply to some of your mails, and delete those that aren’t important. But before you even know it, you realized that you’ve just wasted a whole hour surfing the web mindlessly.
Now, if you’re working in an office job, this situation might feel very familiar. And if you’re an entrepreneur or if you work from home, then I can bet that there are times where this has happened to you. In fact, the very reason you’re reading this article right now might be the result of some mindless surfing. (But don’t leave yet, because I’m about to show you a simple yet highly effective technique for overcoming this problem)
This happens to virtually every one of us. But why?
Now, this article isn’t really about the causes of procrastination. We’re not interested in the problem. What we’re interested in, however, is the solution. And that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
In short, procrastination usually stems from the lack of focus. You might find yourself procrastinating on a certain task, or starting a certain project. Every time when you’re just about to start doing something, you’ll always be distracted by something. And before you know it, you’ve wasted half the day without doing anything really productive.
And yet, something very fascinating happens just when the deadline is coming. You know that you have to do the work right now, or you will be late in submitting it. Then, as if by magic, you somehow manage to sit down and start doing the work – and at a very productive rate!
Now, if this happens to you very often, you might end up with the belief that you work well on deadlines. However, that’s a complete lie.
The only reason why you were unable to start on a particular project before was because it wasn’t urgent. And the reason why you were able to do it so well at the last minute was because you’ll be scolded by your boss if you don’t do it. Or if you’re self-employed, you’d have to think of an explanation to give your client.
At that moment, completing your project became your number one priority. It was so urgent that you just couldn’t ignore it. In essence, you gave your full undivided attention and focus to that particular task.
You see, if you’re focused enough, you could do your work whenever you want, and not just when it’s approaching the deadline. Contrary to what you might think, working under such stress would prevent you from performing your best and delivering a high quality of work. Not to mention, it’s not healthy for your body as well.
So what can you do about it?
This technique is incredibly simple. And simple stuff works best to improve your productivity. (You wouldn’t stick to a complicated strategy anyway)
The only thing you’ll need is a stopwatch.
It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. This technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. And the only reason why it has survived the test of time to become one of the most widely-used time management technique in the world if because it works.
There are a few basic steps to the Pomodoro Technique. Firstly, you decide on a simple task that you want to complete. It’s essential that you don’t attempt to complete something too overwhelming. For example, instead of trying to write an entire book, you can decide to write the introduction first.
Secondly, you set the timer to 25 minutes. And during that 25 minutes, you do nothing but complete your work. During this time, do your best to block out as much distractions as possible. Once the 25 minutes is up, stop whatever you’re doing immediately and take a 3-5 minute break.
Congratulations, you’ve completed one cycle. After about 4 cycles, you’d want to take a slightly longer break (say, 15 minutes). During your break times, it’s imperative that you don’t continue working. Go for a toilet break, have a drink, close your eyes, or walk around your room or office.
There are two reasons why this works so well. Firstly, by setting aside a short duration to concentrate solely on work, you’re developing intense focus, and thus, you’re able to get more things done in a much shorter time.
And the sight of the timer counting down acts as a visual trigger for you to start working. It’s the same as feeling hungry when you see that the clock is at 12pm. But now, the moment you see the timer counting down, you’ll just start working automatically.
Now, you might not experience this initially, because it hasn’t formed a habit yet. But try this out for one month and you’ll soon discover the Pomodoro Technique to be the single most effective strategy in your entire arsenal. You just start the timer and start working, it’s that simple.
A Final Note
Some people swear by this technique, while other find it less useful. At the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preference. Personally, I take a while to warm up, and I find 25 minutes to be a little too short. Instead, I set my timer to 50 minutes, and take a 10 minutes break after that. Experiment with different times and see what works best for you.
The Pomodoro Technique is great, but it’s not magic. There will be times when you just can’t seem to get any work done. Don’t feel depressed if that happens to you from time to time (it happens to everyone). However, if you conscientiously implement this wonderful technique in whatever you do, I’m willing to bet that you’ll see your productivity increase many fold. And procrastination may well be a thing of the past.
Image Credits: entrepreneur.com