You probably  know this scenario well.  Are you like me? I sit down to work on a task.  I just need to get organised!  And suddenly I find a million other things that I need to do. Maybe its walking the dog in some lavish park in Brisbane, cooking a four course dinner, having a cup of the finest tea, or just wandering around in circles in desperation to avoid the task at hand.

Procrastination has found its way into many lives and it tends to weave a web of self-destructive tendencies that take away our chance to be productive. Procrastination might be there convincing you that you’re too tired, too busy, too stressed or in need of something else before you can complete a task. So now is the time to get procrastination under control and take back your will power to complete tasks without distraction.

  • Deadlines and goals

    will help you to complete a task on time. Give yourself a set time frame in which you want to get something done and have goals or milestones to mark out different stages of the self-imposed time frame so that you know when you are achieving goals.

  • Focus on smaller goals

    so that you’re not intimidated by a huge, daunting large task. Break your tasks into smaller time periods and focus on one thing at a time.

  • Change your environment

    if you feel like you are becoming stressed or anxious. Take your work with you to a new place, whether it’s a change of room in your house or office or going to a café. Even taking a small break and going for a walk to get a change of scenery can increase productivity.

  • Tell other people about your goals

    so that you are more determined to meet them. Make sure you are completing goals for your own benefit, but invite family and friends into the process of how you are going about achieving goals. Having support will encourage you to stay focused.

  • Focus on the end point

    and visualise the future you want to achieve. Think clearly about where you want to go and how this task is going to help you achieve that. Keep that image clear in your mind and allow it to inspire you to work hard.

  • Reward progress

    that you make along the way. Don’t be afraid of extrinsic motivation and if that chocolate bar or fun social event on the weekend is going to encourage you to work harder, let it be a way to avoid procrastination.

  • Re-clarify your goals

    to make sure you are staying on the right track. If you have been procrastinating for a while, you might have lost sight of what you were actually trying to achieve before the procrastination. Take another look at your long term goals and get back on track.

Ultimately, the most important and effective way to eliminate procrastination is to find the motivation to just sit down and get it done.

What tips do you have to avoid procrastination?  How do you stay on top and avoid distraction?

Buddhism encourages you to focus on your breathing or on a single principle of Buddhism to calm the monkey mind.   But then the annoying thoughts creep back in. You know what I’m talking about. Boring thoughts, really mundane mental memos. “Did I turn off the iron?” “I must remember to send that email to my boss.” “What was that idea I had when I was going to sleep last night?” “I know I’m forgetting something.”

The reality is, when your mind is full of chatter, you can’t just shut it up by trying to shut it off.  You have to ask yourself, “Why is this on my mind?” and “How can I log my thoughts to release my mind from the burden of remembering?”

Our brain is a bad and unreliable filing system.  Everything big and small is jammed in there.  These thoughts become clutter in our head.  By living a life of distraction (thank you Social Media and smartphones), we are pushing out the deeper and creative thoughts, along with any hope of real calm.

When looking at the effort required to effectively juggle between home, work, finances and other demands, the modern world seems to have forgotten to be Mindful. Becoming more conscious, being more present, in our own thoughts, feelings and sensations may not sound useful.  Yet the principles of mindfulness is to be able to stop, for a moment. To consider things without preconceived judgement, to view things objectively from a different angle. Applying this to a business allows for you to let go of the ‘this-is-the-way-we’ve-alway-done-it’ mindset.

The more you release the burden on your brain, of habitual thinking, of fixed ideas, of remembering and doing everything, the more you are able to be in a state of Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to and observing clearly what is happening, right now.

Practicing Mindfulness

As mentioned earlier, Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment non-judgmentally. Mindfulness does not come quickly, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. When practicing mindfulness, everyone will experience thoughts creeping into their heads and it is inevitable. In a business context, this can be allowing past experiences to cloud our mind.

You need a systematic approach to extricate the things from your mind.  Here are some simple steps to help that process.

  • Adopt a reliable capture method to get thoughts out of your head (I love Evernote).
  • Create actionable items and next steps on your daily to-do list.
  • Review regularly your list to decide what must be done today and when you’re going to do it (on the train, at home etc).
  • When you have the time, prioritise as you go and complete the tasks on the list.
  • Develop ways to track and monitor along the way. Was there a good return on your resources? (Time and money)

If we don’t clear our mind of all our business,  we get annoyed for not being able to retain focus, we stop paying attention and get distracted.  Multitasking means that you are not giving mindful attention to the task at hand. Give each task your undivided attention.

Being continually focused on the present and what is happening around us, is the essential attribute of mindfulness. By learning to live the present moment, we build up the ability to step away from habit, from chronic unconscious emotional and physiological reactions.  These may be reactions to everyday events, behavioural habits that have formed over time and stuck with us.  A moment of mindfulness, allows us to be objective, to look at things from another perspective to either find an alternative way of doing things or to value and build upon something being done well.   We are able to respond to things wisely rather than on auto pilot.

Perks of Being Mindful

Mindfulness enables you to live in the present and improves the quality of your work. With focused effort, we can;

  •  Observe, slow down and stop automatic decisions;
  • Respond more effectively to complex difficult situations;
  • See situations more precisely;
  • Balance work and home.

Ways of Being Mindful

Mindfulness isn’t just 10-minute morning meditation. It can be incorporated throughout your everyday life by simply paying a little more attention to your daily activities as you’re performing them. To list a few:

  •  Pay attention to your breathe-Calming your breath is the key to calm your brain. Are you starting to feel wound up?  Are you taking a break, a breather, a walk away for a moment.  Smokers have the misconception that it calms them (it’s actually a stimulant) but the old “smoko” is a method of taking a breather and allowing some mental down time from the job at hand.
  • Multitasking can be the enemy of focus. The time it takes for our brain to switch from one task to another can take valuable seconds away from the task.  We would achieve all the tasks much quicker if we did them one at a time.  A recent study reported in the Journal Of Experimental Psychology found that it took students far longer to solve complicated maths problems when they had to switch to other tasks – in fact, they were up to 40 per cent slower.
    Getting outside- Spending quality time with nature allows you to increase your focus. (It’s that smoko thing again!)
  • Being Happy – Laughter and meditation have similar effects on the brain.

The moment you become mindful and start living in the present, you will become the curator of your world. It is always good to a keep a watch on what you think, how you think or what you say as the world swivels on the law of attraction.

Share with me what you feel is a method for clearing your mind and staying focused?

 

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About the Author:

Barbara Clifford - The Time TamerBarbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management & stress management enthusiast based in Alice Springs, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things.  She is sought after like a beacon in a sea of chaos to provide professional development in the business environment through workshop training, coaching, mentoring, online training programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker around Australia.  Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships. Follow Barbara on Twitter @barbclifford.