Work – We all are procrastinators. Some are a lot more and some are a little less. But we all suffer from this same issue, the habit of putting things off. What if you do something that you don’t need to put off anything anymore? What if you can practice conscious procrastination on certain unimportant things so that you can get major things done? What if by applying the same method, you can extract at least 2 more hours in a day to do more work?
If you are eager to know, just hang on and read this article through and through. In this article we will share what you can do which will help you extract 2 hours out of no-where. No, there is no magic bullet or quick fix. First you need to understand the formula and then you need to practice it regularly. Then with enough practice, extracting 2 hours or more would be significantly easier for you.
This article will show you first a research which will identify why you procrastinate! Then we will give you 3 specific ideas to deal with that major cause of procrastination. Lastly, we will talk about how you can extract 2 or more hours from your day for more work.
Let’s get started.
20 minutes barrier
Do you know why you procrastinate? Do you know why you don’t seem to get done with the things you should have done a week before? Do you know why lack of accomplishment makes you anxious?
There is only one reason.
If you have guessed it rightly, you would know that it’s distraction.
Whenever you are trying to do major work, your mobile beeps! Congratulations, you have received the first notification (distraction) from Facebook. Then you check out Facebook and forget that you were doing some important work. You remember and go back to your work and again there is another beep. This time it’s a notification in your Gmail. Again you have received a new email. And you leave your work on the table and check the new email. After you check your email, you remember again and go back to work. Again after a point of time, you receive another notification from Whatsapp. Congrats! You are distracted again.
Why we’re bringing this? We will talk about two researches and then you will understand why.
- First, do you know that a research says that average human attention span has reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds on a single thing? That means, if you’re doing any major work, you can on an average concentrate on that major task just for 8 seconds and then you would be distracted by something else.
- The second research is more important than the first one. It says once you’re distracted, you need at least 20 minutes to get back your previous focus on that major task.
Now in a day we get distracted many times. Let’s say you get distracted 10 times day. That means you waste in total 200 minutes a day, meaning 3 hours 20 minutes of time. Can you imagine how much distraction distracts you from work? It’s not you who is the problem. You’re not lazy or incompetent. You’re simply not able to focus on single thing.
In the following section we will share with you 3 ideas to beat distraction. If you follow them, you will be able to do something about it.
Be distraction-free: 3 ideas to conquer it
Your work is worship. It’s very important and if you don’t value your work, no-one will. If you value your work, pay heed to the following ideas.
Pen and paper technique
This is a simple technique to get work done. If you are one of those who get distracted very easily, here’s what you should do. Whenever you are sitting with your work, keep a pen and paper with you. Now, it’s our habit that whenever we’re trying to focus on a major thing, we remember something important to do at that time. Mind knows its tricks to distract us. But you don’t need to worry about it. Simply whenever you remember to do any important work while doing your major task, take the pen and paper and write down the important work and get back to work. If you put that thing on paper and decide to do that once you’re done with your major task, your mind will stop distracting you. You need to practice this technique for some time to be able to be good at it. But if you do practice, it always works.
A demon named smart phone
Yes you read it right. Your mobile is a demon if you want to do any major work. That smart looking thing isn’t your friend at all. It beeps every time whenever you want to do anything important. And you are also very loyal to your smart phone. Whenever it beeps, you go and check what it is trying to say. Yes, your most important work can wait. No? You got it right? It is not your friend if you ever want to do something meaningful. There are two options you can use here. First is, put it off completely. That’s the best option. But if you don’t want to do that, simply put it in airplane mode. That’s not all. Take this demon from your sight. It’s said that when something is out of sight, it would be out of your mind. We will go ahead and also prescribe you something. Don’t sit with anything other than what you use for that major work right now. Suppose, you want to write a report. All you need is your laptop and you. Remove all from your desk. Put off your mobile and put it in the drawer. Remove all pens, pencils, headphone and anything that won’t be necessary. And you will see that there would be little or no chance of distraction. You won’t be distracted as much as you used to be. And you will get major work done with ease.
Yes, this is the master-stroke. But to use it, you need to be aware of what you’re doing and what you’re getting distracted by every day. We will ask you one question. Here it is – “What is the one thing via which you get distracted?” Take out a piece of paper and write this question. And answer for yourself. For majority of people, the number one thing which distracts them from doing their major chunk of work is a mobile phone. But it may not be in your case. You may feel that you need to change your room or space. If you’re working in an office, make arrangements for getting away from those noise and distraction. If you say that the major distraction is the constant conversation of your co-workers and you know they always talk instead of doing work, use a good headphone and listen to some good music while working. Awareness precedes clarity. Once you are aware of the main thing which distracts us from doing our most important work, you will be able to take action.
A simple technique to extract 2 or more hours work a day, every day
This technique is simple and you can quickly master it if you practice it. All you need is a pen, a paper and a stop watch. If you are ready, let’s see how we would be able to extract 2 or more hour a day.
The reality is that we waste most of our time in distraction. Whenever we’re asked what we are doing, we don’t have a clue. All we say that we are busy. But busy being what? Busy being busy! The reason we don’t know where the time is flying is because we are not aware of the distraction at all and we are also unconscious of how much time we spend simply.
looking at the screen of our mobile and how much time we waste by mindless surfing on the internet. How would we stop it? By applying a simple technique!
The technique and how to use it
This technique is called Pomodoro Technique. Here’s the way you should practice it.
- Take a pen and paper and first write down all that you need to do in a day. It should not be more than 3-5 things.
- Select which one among those 3-5 is the most important among all.
- Now, decide how much time it would take to complete that task? For example, let’s say you would require 90 minutes to complete this task.
- Write down * symbol on the right hand side of the task. How many? Divide the total duration of the task by 30 minutes. For the above example, you need to put 3 * symbols. To cite an example, let’s say you want to write a report and it would take 90 minutes to complete. Here’s how you should present it –
- Writing the report (***)
- Take your stop watch and set 25 minutes of time and get to work. It’s redundant to say that clear away all distractions, your phone, diary, book, material, anything that you won’t require.
- Once you are done with 25 minutes of work, take a break of 5 minutes. Then repeat till you are done with the task. It’s advisable not to take any break more than 5 minutes as it may distract you from your major task and you may not even start again on the work at hand.
This is a simple technique by applying which you would get more work done in less time. And also, you would be able to increase focus and extract more hours. Many people have been using this simple technique and they have reported that they have been doing much less work (time) and getting more work done.
Author Cal Newport calls this type of focused work as deep work. And if you have done deep work, you would know that deep work should be done in small chunks like Pomodoro Technique. Do 25 minutes of deep work and take 5 minutes of break. And again go back to work.
There are couple of things you should consider here –
- Even if you get a lot more things done and will be able to extract more than 2 hours a day by following this great Pomodoro technique, you won’t be able to do more than 10 sessions a day. Meaning you won’t be able to do 300 minutes of deep work a day, at least in the beginning. When you are starting out, it’s wiser to start small. 300 minutes of deep work means you would be able to finish up 3-5 major things during that time. Gradually as you get better at using Pomodoro Technique, you can increase the number of sessions.
- Don’t worry if you fail in implementing technique at first. You are trying something new and it’s natural to be distracted. But don’t stop. If you fail today, don’t leave it and say that it doesn’t work. Try it again tomorrow. And again day after tomorrow. With time, you would see that you’re getting better and better at Pomodoro Technique and you are able to achieve much more than you’ve ever achieved before.
In final analysis, it can be said that distraction is a disease. And we suffer from it more when we try to multi-task and try to cram as many things as we can at the same time. Rather do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. Because your mind can’t concentrate on two things at the same time! It can only concentrate on one thing at a time. So, whenever you are doing an important task, put your whole concentration into it. Don’t do anything else. And you would see that you’re not only getting extra-ordinary results; rather doing anything would be much easier than you ever thought possible. We started this discussion with extracting 2 or more hours a day. Let’s finish the discussion with the same. Extracting time is all about saying no to distraction and saying yes to one thing at a time with your full focus.