I am a chronic procrastinator. I will admit that upfront. I find that I sometimes take breaks and label it as “need to rest a bit,” when in reality, I’m really just avoiding my work. I find that I can get easily distracted with whatever thought goes through my head. My time is spent on sports news, tech news and facebook.
You may ask why should this repeat offender give advice about tools to help us stay on track. Well, because I have struggled with procrastination, I am qualified. Because I’ve gone through those times of un-motivation, I am qualified. These tools won’t instantly change you into a work-producing machine of course. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re looking for the magic pill. Rather, these tools are designed to help steer you back to your work and the task at hand, instead of elsewhere.
Chrome is an excellent web-browser and one that I swear by. Its fast, its clean and its simple. It also has a great extension called StayFocused. This extension can block certain sites and allow you to only view certain sites for a certain amount of time per day. Best of all, there is a “Nuclear Option,” in which it keeps you from accessing the internet for a certain amount of time, if you so wish. So say you really need to work on your research paper, but you are also waiting anxiously for news of your friend’s engagement to hit fb, you can set the Nuclear Option so that you cannot view any of your blocked sites (like fb) for 2 hours. There are additional tweaks with that. For example, you can set it so it denies access to the whole web during that “Nuke” or only to your list of blocked sites. This is helpful if you’re working on a paper that requires you to use the internet, but you want to keep yourselves from checking out twitter or ESPN.
2. Plan the day
There’s a saying, “Failure to Plan is planning to fail.” If we don’t plan our days out, many of us just laze around, knowing what we need to do, but not feeling the urgency or structure to do it. One way of planning our day out is to have a schedule.
Having a schedule helps us to see what we need to accomplish at the moment, as well as why (well, you need to finish your emailing this hour because you’ll be gone the next three hours at a party with a friend!). There will be varying degrees of planning based on the needs of different people. For me, I like to plan my days out by the hour. For others, they may split their day up into morning, afternoon and evening. Whatever best suits you, have a plan. Remember, “Failure to plan is planning to fail!”
3. Get away from it
Here in seminary, I am living off-campus at a place where I have my own room. My room is a rectangle where my bed is pretty much beside my desk. I can literally roll out of bed and into my seat at my desk. The bonus is that my commute to “work” is 2 seconds. The danger is that my commute to laziness is also 2 seconds. As a result, I’ve tried to make it a habit of coming to school everyday to study, even when I don’t have class. I am more inclined to study when its an empty room and my inviting, warm bed is nowhere to be found. Another thing I had to get away from at times was my iphone. When I first got my iphone, I would play with it all the time. Early on, to keep myself from playing with it, I would place my phone at the far end of the table or give it to a friend, to keep myself accountable. So it may be a bed, or an iphone or a tv show, or a person. Whatever it is, if you know its going to be a big distraction to you, get away from it.
Side-note: It doesn’t mean you need to be mean and stay away from “it” forever. If its a person, just gently let them know that you have so much fun around them, that you need some alone time to get some work done. Then assure them that you two can hang out later. For me, I always return to my bed…so there’s no love lost.
Staying on track is never easy, whether you are a full-time minister, a seminary student, a mom, or in the business world. So many things call for our attention and for our time. But with these tools and a little bit of determination to slightly improve day by day, we all can be on our way to become masters of our time.