It can be challenging to get started on an assignment, especially for those in design jobs, where the completion of a project is largely dependent on feeling inspired. However, with the pressure to meet deadlines on a daily basis, it’s important to utilize every minute of the work day and be as efficient as possible. This means less chatting, fewer coffee breaks, and more high-quality work. Here’s how to get started on those days that you just can’t seem to focus.
1. Create a strategic plan of action
Many procrastinators have mastered the art of padding their to-do lists with tedious tasks that they can easily cross of their list (bonus points if you’ve ever listed “make a to-do list” as one of your tasks). However, there are certain strategies to adopt when creating your list that make it easier to get started on your assignments and accomplish more in less time. For starters, a work day without procrastination should begin before you even get out of bed. On Sunday night, or before the start of your work week, try to envision everything that needs to get done that week, and write it down.
Once you create a running list, identify several projects that absolutely have to get done the next day. Having a plan of action with only several large assignments allows you to wake up ready to complete the highest-priority items. Your day will seem much more manageable, and you’ll be likely to get started on unpleasant projects when there’s an end in sight.
2. Eat the frog
Unfortunately, the project that you’ve been dreading all week isn’t going away on its own. For this reason, it’s best to “eat the frog,” or accomplish that most challenging task at the start of the day. Regardless of your focus, many design jobs require collaborating with multiple groups. Your procrastination doesn’t just affect your workload – it also negatively impacts your fellow project managers, fellow designers, and marketing assistants. Getting the largest project out of the way in the morning frees up your afternoon to work on lower-priority items that may not have as much of an impact on your colleagues’ work.
3. Schedule breaks appropriately
It’s impractical to consider getting into the office at 9 a.m. and working straight through to 6 p.m. without stopping. Take note of the hours in the day when you’re lagging, and schedule breaks for those times. The 3 p.m. slump is a popular one. During that time, try getting up and walking around for a bit, grabbing coffee, or just talking to a coworker. Business Insider also recommended working in bursts. The Pomodoro technique calls for 25 minutes of uninterrupted work, followed by three to five minutes of rest, and can be majorly effective for those struggling to stay focused and efficient. Over time, your brain will be trained to churn out more work in shorter amounts of time and be rewarded with a break. It’s a win-win!
4. Know yourself
To truly combat procrastination and be more productive, you need to know exactly what it is that’s getting you stuck. Is replying to work emails bogging you down? Are you unsure how to start a project? Do you not have all of the necessary resources to complete your assignment? Come up with a solution for these challenges. Business Insider recommended checking email every hour rather than immediately upon receiving it. Also, ask your manager for guidance if you’re not sure where to start, and contact the appropriate people if you need additional items in order to start. Reflect on where you’re struggling and resolve the issue.
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