It took me almost a couple of years to unpack my winter clothes since I came back to Tanzania from abroad. Yeah…that’s how bad it was. I procrastinated until I forgot about it…hahaha.
Basically for me, if it was a work task, I made sure I did my best to meet the deadline, and only rarely I would have fallen behind. The problem was in other areas of my life like school assignments, and other areas in my personal life. I had this attitude of delaying things for a while even the urgent ones. I would tell myself I will do them later or tomorrow or someday, and they would not get done on time or I would wait and did them at the last minute. Like everybody else would have done, I wanted to know what made me procrastinating on things or tasks.
As usual, most of us we decide to change after we get sick and tired, and so we become hungry for change. I don’t remember why I thought this technique would work, but all I remember was me deciding to take a sticky notes pad, and a marker pen. And on one sticky note I wrote “Do it now,” on another one I wrote “Decide now,” and the third one I wrote “Start to finish,” and the fourth I wrote “I am making a good progress.” And then after that I placed all sticky notes on my laptop so that each time I would look at them I will be prompted to do something and stop procrastinating on things.
And I have to say this technique somehow helped me overcome procrastination, and slowly I started getting things done, not only important and urgent tasks, but basically everything I had to do. It was during this period that I also searched on Google to learn why other people were more productive than others. So I was able to learn about other techniques that also helped me overcome procrastination and become more productive.
I came to find out procrastination is also the root of being unproductive. And when you procrastinate it doesn’t necessarily mean you are not a hardworking person, because I have always been a hardworking person. And I am sure there are many reasons, but two reasons that make people procrastinate are lack of interest and focus. When you have no interest to do the things you must do, you can lose focus, and pretty much you will find excuses to not do them because you can be easily discouraged and destructed by other things. Other reasons why people procrastinate are one, they are indecisive and two, they do not have their priorities right, and three, is lack of self-discipline.
When you focus on having fun all the time or doing pleasurable things, most of the time that is what you will get. Years will pass and you will look back, all you have to show off for your time is that you had so many pleasures and fun that’s all.
Number one reason we are not focused on things that are more important and urgent in our lives could be because most of the time we don’t have our priorities right. Once you know what your priorities are, and you arrange them according to their importance, it will help you to get focus in order to get important and urgent things done first, and help you make good decisions and use your time wisely.
For instance your priorities can be like this; to put God first, family second, and your career or school third, and everything else falls into uncategorized, which is fourth. After setting up your priorities, what remains is for you to balance your time and to mingle with all the four categories together to work for you, and not against you.
I mean you would think I should be a pro about this by now..hahaha.. I am still a student myself because I have just found out about setting priorities a couple of years ago, sometimes things take time. And it is hard because I could be at home on my desk, let’s say writing, and one of my siblings will come, or call, or Whats-app saying, “It’s not good to be isolated. You don’t hang out or say hello.” And that would alarm me I have been spending more time with my laptop and neglected other areas of my life, so I need to put my priorities right. Because according to our example, family is my second priority, so I need to balance things.
And so I have recently found another technique that has helped me with procrastination, and how to balance my time and become more organized. Having a weekly schedule or timetable of important things I have to tackle within seven days of the week that are must do for me is like a huge relief for me. I developed it myself using a word document template. It’s very simple; make a table of seven columns for Monday to Sunday, and make sixteen rows for the sixteen hours of the day to write the actual tasks in brief that are must do for you to do each day of the week. Experts say it’s healthy to sleep eight hours and so the rest of sixteen hours in a day are for us to do everything else. Depending on when you get up from bed and when you go to sleep, the first row will have the hour you get up from bed and the last row will be the hour you go to bed.
The weekly schedule is like a school timetable and is useful to use for the tasks you consistently do daily. For example; let’s say you work from 8 am to 5 pm, you will merge the part from 8 am to 5 pm from Monday to Friday; and write “At work, or Hustle.” Then the part or cells from 6:00 to 6:30 am from Monday to Sunday, you will merge the cells and write “Prayer.” And when you are done planning for other tasks and things you consistently do in a week, you can color coordinate your different tasks, then print and frame it on 8 x 10 certificate frame for you to hang on your wall or you can glue the printed weekly schedule on the door.
Now, there is a slightly difference between what you write on your weekly schedule or weekly timetable, and what you write on your daily to yearly planner or diary. For the weekly timetable, one it is somehow fixed and not flexible, and two, the descriptions of the tasks are short, and briefly written, and three, the activities and plans written on your weekly timetable are for things you must do-consistently. You do them every week, the same time, the same days. They will be part of your weekly routine.
Now for your daily to yearly planner or diary, let’s use our example of 8 am to 5 pm. We have already written on our fixed weekly timetable that we will be working or hustling during that time. So our planner or diary will outline exactly what we will be doing from 8 am to 5 pm. For instance; from 8 am to 9 am, we will write ‘check emails.’ From 9 am to 10 am, ‘office meeting,’ and so on. Your planner or diary will include all fixed plans and activities listed on your weekly schedule or timetable, and also anything that is not fixed or listed on your weekly timetable. Therefore, some of the hours that are not filled on your weekly schedule will be filled on your planner, and this is because the planner or diary will contain both the fixed or consistent and flexible or inconsistent tasks written in details, while the weekly schedule contains only the fixed and consistent briefly written tasks.
You have to understand, in order to accomplish your goals you need discipline and consistency. Having a fixed weekly schedule will help you plan your days and weeks easily. It will help you become more self-discipline and organized, and also help you establish good daily habits in your life like praying, reading books, and exercising everyday. You can even plan for other weekly activities such as laundry days. You can say for instance, every Saturday from 6 am to 9 am, it is laundry time. Or every Sunday from 9 am to 11 am, it is Church time, and so on.
Once you learn these techniques and apply them daily, you will see some improvement and procrastination will no longer be your disease. The hard part will be balancing your time and priorities in order to have a balanced life.
We are a combination of our decisions. So it’s wise to adapt some good behaviors and attitudes especially when we know they are for our own good.