Over the years I found it increasingly easy to get more done at work. I don’t know if I am alone in this, but I used to get very little done in the office. Even if I had a lot of work I would allow myself to be distracted or bored. Most of the time I would procrastinate until the last minute and then scramble to get all of my work done (and thankfully because I was smart and capable of working 24 hours straight I almost always did). So how did I get out of this cycle? I started setting goals.
At first it started with breaking down the task into little pieces. So if I had to write a document for example, I would first write an outline, this gave me the pieces I needed. Then I would use the outline to break the document into sections. Then I would set goals–on Monday I will do section 1, Tuesday section 2, etc. Although often times I wouldn’t go in order. I would work on the sections I liked first. So for example, if part of the document needed research and another section I already knew about, I would start with the section that would be the easiest to write. What I found was that once I had momentum and almost all the sections written it was easy to finish the other sections because I hated leaving work undone. It was like once I started the project, I just wanted to finish it.
Now I take this approach with every aspect of my life. I break things into small pieces (one look in my notebooks or desk you will find a whole slew of “to do” lists) and make lots of lists. They will have things like “book plane flight to LA”, or “drop off dry cleaning”, or “write email to EG”. Almost everything I do is written down. Even my blog entries. I think writing things down makes them more tangible and being able to cross things off the list always gives me a sense of accomplishment.
Some people blame procrastination on time management, other people say that procrastinators don’t start tasks because the tasks are overwhelming (too big), sometimes it is because that person is afraid of failure or don’t think they can do something perfect. I think all of those are possibilities for some. In fact, I think of myself as a perfectionist and certainly someone that allows large tasks to overwhelm me. I read a bunch of article on procrastination before writing this entry and many attribute it to psychological conditions where thinking about tasks as easy and manageable can help, as well as just change your frame of mind. This may very well be true, and perhaps my goal setting is how I do it. Regardless, though, I think that breaking things up into pieces and then tackling them one by one is a great way to just get more done–and who doesn’t want that?