The Friday Five
Procrastination is a beast we all battle. Some days it feels like you’d rather do anything else but get work done. But you can’t get away with that all the time. And sometimes the work just has to get completed posthaste, no matter what. So for this week’s Friday Five, here are my personal five favorite tips for knocking out procrastination and just getting stuff done!
- The Pomodoro technique. This is a simple technique that many people I know swear by. It is essentially the opposite of multitasking. You set a timer for 25 minutes and work on one single task until the timer goes off. Eliminate all distractions for that time—close your office door and turn off the ringer on your phone and all other aural notifications. You may not finish the task in 25 minutes, but you may be surprised by how much you can get done in a short period when you’re not distracted.
- Banishment. This technique is particularly effective for people who work in home offices. If you can’t get your work done in your office for some reason, banish yourself to a location that provides an environment for getting your work done and force yourself to stay there until the task is complete. I like to banish myself to the ASU law library. It’s quiet, and boring, and has big tables where I can spread out and work. Without the distractions of my office, I can get my work done faster.
- No sleep ‘til it is done. This is a great motivator for people who love their sleep—tell yourself you can’t go to bed that night until your work gets done. I have a strict publishing schedule for my blogs, releasing a new post every Tuesday and Thursday morning. That means I can’t go to bed on Monday and Wednesday until my post is complete and loaded on the site.
- A reward system. Give yourself a reward for completing a project, preferably something you can put on your desk so you have a visual reminder of what you’re going to get. It could be whatever floats your boat, though here’s an example. I met someone who put a bucket of ice with a high-quality beer in it within his eyesight. He was only allowed to drink it when he got his work done.
- Eliminate the nagging things. Sometimes you can’t settle down to work because your office is messy or you have phone calls to make. Whatever the stray chores are that are distracting you from work, just go do them. Finish the little things on your to-do list so you can sit down and focus on your work without those nagging thoughts or distractions.
Figure out which techniques help you overcome procrastination and get your work done. Different tricks may work better for different tasks. Don’t let it bother you if what works for you is different from your office mates. What matters is that your work gets done, not what you have to do to make that happen.
Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer and speaker. Her virtual practice, The Carter Law Firm, focuses on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal 2012 Legal Rebel, Ruth is a 2011 graduate of Arizona State University College of Law. Known for her daring antics and outgoing personality, she is co-founder of Improv Arizona, and also blogs weekly at UndeniableRuth.com. In her Attorney at Work column “Nothing But the Ruth,” she writes about the lessons she’s learning while building her new virtual practice.