Get $#!& Done
Netflix. Facebook. Twitter. Smart Phones. Video Games.
We love them, and we don’t love to hate them. Weapons of mass distraction keep us from getting $#!& done. It’s so easy these days to consume media. Our phones keep us connected everywhere we go, and the commercial free video streaming services have made it possible to binge watch shows from start-to-end. Thus ending the week-long wait to learn of the conclusion to terrible cliffhangers.
While being extremely convenient and not at all evil, these products and services are very good at enabling procrastination. What started out as just glancing at the latest twitter update turns into watching hours of kitten videos on Youtube. So how do you be productive, and not a serial kitten video watching machine?
I’ve listed 5 tips and tools to help you get your crap finished before you go on that media binge. Because we know you will, just save it for after your work is done.
The aptly named Freedom is a content blocker. Seeing how we’re essentially trapped in a cycle of content consumption with social media and online videos, Freedom will well, free you from that cycle. You can set your own settings for what you want to block, for how long, and will [eventually] give you a way to track the progress you’ve made without distractions. At $29 per year (or more for lifetime access), it’s well worth it to keep your undisciplined self in check when you need to meet those deadlines. Another neat feature? They have an app for all of your devices, and can block apps on iOS.
Depriving yourself not your thing? Then try setting rewards for your work. This concept is pretty simple and is similar to the whole positive psychology deal. Essentially, what you’ll do is list out what you need to get done. Keeping it organized will help you to see the work for what it is, and not like a giant To-Do monster mountain. This helps with feeling like you actually have a chance at finishing it. Next, to get you over that last hurdle of doubt, just tie a carrot at the end of the stick. By that I mean give yourself something for accomplishing your work! I typically use food as my reward. I love eating, and it’s a great motivator.
3. Do it NOW
If you get a task that won’t take long to complete (say 5 minutes or less) then finish it right away. It’s easy to see it and say “well it won’t take that long, so I can do it later”, and then it never gets done. Worse yet, you get many of those little tasks throughout the day, and put them all off until the last minute and find yourself scrambling before you get to sleep, and either stay up late or just don’t do them. Get it done, you see the task, you do it and move on. Maybe have a reward snack after.
4. To-Do List
This was briefly mentioned in Step 2, but it deserves its own paragraph. When I have a mountain of work that needs to be done, I look at it, and then go straight to Youtube or watch an episode of a show I’m following. The work looks daunting. At a subconscious level, I feel like it’ll take way too long, and I won’t even want to start. Itemizing the work that needs to be done into a To-Do list makes the work seem much smaller. Usually, the tasks can be completed in about 10 minutes. Sometimes I’ll have one or two that’ll only take an hour if I focus on them, but with everything neatly organized into a list, I can see what needs to get done, block out time for it, and get it all done in less time than I’d imagined it would take. There are various apps with reminders that you can use for this, or you can use a good ole’ pen and paper. Whatever you choose, stick to it and let it work wonders in your life.
5. Pomodoro Timer
Speaking of blocking out time for a task, try a Pomodoro timer. According to Parkinson’s law, work will expand to the time available for its completion. Seeing the work in a list puts it into perspective. You can see what needs to get done, assume how much time the items will take, and then follow that schedule throughout your day for each task. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done when you put a time limit on your list. There are different apps that you can use with the times and breaks timed out for you. I typically just use the timer on my phone.
I hope you find some use out of one or more of these tips. Tweet me @alexyounglive or send me a note if you have any tips of your own or want to share your experiences with getting $#!& done.