At the end of 2013, I made a lot of plans for 2014. And I don’t mean vague ideas of things I would like to see happen in my life. I mean step by step action plans, broken down by month and then by category and task. This was the first year I had undertaken such a task and it felt wonderful to know what I was going to be doing in what felt like a monumental year.
And then I got cancer.
All those plans? Out the window, as I made radical course adjustments to manage this new experience that was taking over my life. Of course, that is another tale altogether. I am here to talk about 2015. The year after I beat cancer, regrouped and am ready to plan again. Only, life has moved forward, even without my plans. My life has different values, tasks, goals and obligations. And I’ve found, to my dismay, that I’ve gotten very distracted with the free time I have.
That’s right. This wife, mother, psychotherapist, business owner, writer, artist and knitter has free time.
And I’ve been using it on Facebook, twitter, Jetpack Joy Ride, and Pinterest. I’ve been using it on day dreaming about the kitchen I would love to have, mentally redesigning a gallery wall in my entry way, and wondering what sort of closet organizer would really fit my needs. I’ve been using it to avoid household chores, put off maintenance tasks, and to not focus on what my goals actually are. I’ve been wasting my own time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is value in each of those tasks. Facebook can help us stay connected, games offer momentary stress relief, and all household renovations start with day dreams that eventually lead to plans. But that is the big part I’ve been missing – none of these things were leading to plans. I was just…goofing off, really. Wasting time until the next task I couldn’t ignore popped up.
So, I decided that needed to stop, post haste!
I decided I needed to create productivity habits in order to avoid my distractions (and curb my tendency to procrastinate). Here’s what has been working for me:
At the start of each month, I think about what my major goals are. I create deadlines and schedule time for trying to meet these goals into my monthly planner. I think about these scheduled blocks of time the same way I think about my time with clients; I need to be fully present and focused with minimal opportunity for distraction while I work towards whatever goal I am trying to reach. Each day, I consult my planner and review the tasks and goals ahead of me. And each night, I review my work and see if there is anything I need to revisit in the coming days.
Keeping myself on track has become my biggest protection against procrastination – each time I have the urge to lose myself on Pinterest, I glance at my planner instead – do I have time for it? Or, would my life and values be better served by doing something else? The wonderful result is that sometimes, I DO have time for Facebook or Pinterest, and I get to experience those pastimes without the guilt that comes with knowing I should really be doing something else.
What is your plan to avoid procrastination?