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Procrastination

This is probably an old friend. The one big job that you keep putting off till next week. You take on other things so that you – consciously or unconsciously – never get to it. Procrastination is a major problem for many people. There are different methods you can apply to prevent it or resolve it. We share two of these with you.

Eat that frog-method

‘Eat that frog’ is a method of tackling procrastination. It means: just get started working on the big, important task that you keep putting off, “eat that frog!” This gives you more satisfaction and energy for the rest of your working day and means that you get more done.

Unpleasant jobs that are still unfinished take up your time and energy either consciously or not. They get stuck in your head, distract you and this kills your focus. If you start each day by eating one of these frogs, or at least a part of a big fat frog, then the chances are good that you will be very pleased with yourself and have a good feeling for the rest of the day. Sometimes you keep postponing a job because you are not clear what steps you can take right now. This makes it seem too complicated, too much or too hard.

Often you can knock the procrastination on the head by defining a series of actions for yourself. Chop up your big task into small pieces before you put any actions on your list. Think of all the things you need to do to be able to complete the job. Where can you start? If perhaps you want to call “Peter”, surely you first need to find his number? If so, then that is your first action. By being as detailed as possible, you lower the threshold to get you started on the job.

Pomodoro method

This will help you to split up a big task into manageable pieces that you can then carry out efficiently. It is the ideal method for when you can’t get going on something. Or when you are facing a mountain of work and constantly get distracted. Buy a kitchen timer (pomodoro gets its name from a kitchen timer that looked like a tomato) and agree with yourself how much time is needed for each task.

Pomodoro works using chunks of time: work on the task for 25 minutes, 5 minutes break, 25 minutes

working on the task again, 5 minutes break. After every 3 or 4 chunks of time, take a longer break of a quarter to half an hour. If you have a lot of small tasks to do, or if you lose concentration quickly, you can also adjust the times to fit.

When you use the pomodoro method, first define the list of times for the chunks (or pomodoros), then figure out a specific task for each pomodoro. For example: vacuum clean this floor, make a shopping list, or reade mails. Don’t make the tasks too big. Once your pomodoro schedule is complete, start doing the tasks. Set your alarm for 25 minutes and do your first task. When the alarm goes off, immediately reset it for 5 minutes and take a short break. When the alarm goes off again, reset it once more for 25 minutes and start your second task. Work your way through your pomodoro schedule and be strict about sticking to the (break) times.

Before you know it, you will have cleared a good part of your to-do list. Another benefit is that you always have a break coming up soon, which makes it easier to avoid distractions/temptations. Feel like a cup of tea? Keep working, that’s what the 5 minute break is for!

Author: Nina de Rooij, PSV lifestyle coach