Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Procrastinators Anonymous

This week I was invited to speak to a business group where we discussed procrastination, analysis paralysis, lack of skills and confidence – all things that stop people getting on with tasks that could drive their business forward.

I focused on tips and advice to help people who were putting off writing content about their business but we also looked at productivity generally. So here are my top six tips to be more productive and then another six to help you get over writer's block.

Six tips to help you be more productive

1. It's not all about the famous 'to do' list. I love a good list. In fact, I've been known to add things I've just done to a list so I can immediately cross them off. Sometimes you need a 'don't do' list when you are getting sidetracked by distractions that aren't helping you, such as that video of dogs being baffled by the owners disappearing behind blankets and curtains.
2. Keep an eye on how accurate you are at estimating how long tasks will take when you plan out a day of work. If your diary includes a meeting out of the office remember to allow time to travel, park and walk to the venue. 
3. Try working in 45-minute blocks of time with your phone on silent and turned face down. When you've done your 45 minutes you can stretch your legs, check social media (BRIEFLY!) and make a cuppa. 
4. Multitasking is not a badge of honour. Practice the discipline of working on one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. Close your emails on your laptop, PC or device so that you don't flit off and deal with a 'quick' reply. It will take longer to get back into what you were doing before.
5. Keep your work area tidy and well-organised. You may try and convince yourself that 'filing' papers and pages in piles on the floor works well for you, but you will feel much better if you find them a proper home (or shred them if you don't need them any more).
6. No-one can be great at everything. Why waste time doing stuff you hate and that you aren't very good at when you could delegate it to someone who wants to do that work and is far better at it than you will ever be?

Photo by BRUNO CERVERA on Unsplash

Six tips to beat writer's block

1. Just write. Don't over-think it.  Just start writing and accept that you can improve it later on. No-one needs to see your first draft so lose your inhibitions and don't be self-conscious.
2. Forget the introduction, or opening sentence, if that's what's holding you up. You could write the ending or your call-to-action first and then work backwards. 
3. (This is one of my favourites and it's the best way of achieving tips 1. and 2.) Write as fast as you can for 10 minutes without stopping!! You could be surprised at how much useful and good stuff you'll have written that you can then edit and re-organise.
4. Tell the critical voice in your head to 'Shut up!' (You have one too, don't you? It's not just me, is it?)
5. If you're feeling stuck, try a change of scenery; move to a different place to write, perhaps a different room in your house, office or studio or head outside. Many people recommend movement to overcome writer's block. Go for a walk or a jog. Hop on a bus or a train if you have time. Fresh air and the beauty of nature can be a real inspiration.
6. Rehearse the story you want to tell by imagining yourself saying it out loud..... or better still DO say it out loud. If you have a pet they can make a receptive audience. In my experience dogs show marginally more interest in your stories than cats, but it's a close thing.

So, do you know someone who should be a member of Procrastinators Anonymous (if they could ever get round to organising a meeting)? Have you seen a website where the most recent news item or blog post is dated 2017 or earlier? Perhaps you can share this blog post with them and help them transform into a productivity ninja?