Agency Life: Kick procrastination where it hurts
by TJ Njozela (@tj_njozela) One resolution that makes it onto most peoples’ list, and inevitably becomes forgotten, is the resolution to procrastinate less. Yes, procrastination — that word that reminds you that you should be doing something that for some or other reason you just keep putting off and you don’t even know why.
Towards the end of every year, people take a look at their lives and make resolutions intended to change — hopefully improve — their behavior, or performance or attitude and so on in the year ahead. But, a few weeks into the year, as normalcy and routine set in, the enthusiasm of not just turning over a new leaf but the whole forest disappears. Gym memberships are cancelled, forgotten. Instead of spending more time with friends and family, more time is ended up being spent on emailing and in meetings. A healthy diet becomes healthy food on the go, then just food on the go.
Here are a few tips that may help you to get things going and procrastinate less. Fortunately, they’re a lot easier than waking up at 5am for a morning jog.
Just do it, now
The easiest way to not procrastinate is to just do whatever it is that needs to be done, and do it now. It sounds simple enough but, a lot of the time, distractions (unwanted or grabbed with both arms), or other things that need to be done, make us delay, and before you know it, you have a review in 10 minutes and you haven’t even started on the layout.
Remember that most distractions are caused by other people and, more often than not, people will leave you alone if you seem busy. So put on some earphones when you’re working at your desk, even if you’re not listening to anything; find a quiet spot where people can’t distract you; and start working on what needs to be done. Another good idea would be to put your phone on silent, and close those social media tabs on your browser, too, and focus only on your work. Right now.
Do one thing at a time
Everybody wants to be good at multitasking. But it would do you no good to be a jack of all trades and master of none. So, instead of worrying about the millions of things you need to get done in a day, pick one and do it. Then do the next thing, and the next thing and, before you know it, people will be asking you how you manage to do so much with so little time.
What we sometimes don’t realise is people actually find it very difficult to do two things at the same time. If you try to listen to the lyrics of the latest single while trying to figure the family tree of your favourite soapie character, you’ll end up switching between the two instead of fully engaging with either. Doing the one, then the other, would be more enjoyable in any case. So, instead of trying to be a multitasker, try being an effective task-switcher instead.
Take a breather
Your brain uses a lot of processing power to figure things out and solve problems. So, once you’re done with a task, take about five minutes to get some fresh air so that thinker of yours may get some time to breathe. Going straight from one thing to the next is a sure way to make yourself tired, and most likely fade as the day comes to an end. By taking some time, you may approach each new task with fresh thinking and a new perspective.
In a nutshell, if you just do what needs to be done right now, prioritise, and take a breather after completing tasks, you’ll be well on your way to being more productive and procrastinating less. It seems very obvious but, as we all know, sometimes common sense isn’t so common.
So what are you waiting for? Stop reading and go and be productive. Now.
TJ Njozela (@tj_njozela) is an award-winning senior copywriter at FCB Africa with several years of experience in the advertising industry. More than a writer, he is also a reader, a thinker, and an avid liker of things; and he once walked from Joburg to Cape Town in 30 days to raise funds to buy wheelchairs for people in need. #30Days30Wheelchairs. TJ contributes the regular “Agency Life” column, in which he gives career advice for working within the advertising industry, to MarkLives.