Claire Connelly
Business and Finance Journalist

Claire Connelly is an award-winning freelance journalist. She writes for publications including the AFR, The Age, ABC, SBS and Junkee.

How to avoid procrastination

Claire Connelly
Business and Finance Journalist

Claire Connelly is an award-winning freelance journalist. She writes for publications including the AFR, The Age, ABC, SBS and Junkee.

Procrastination can mean nothing ever gets your full attention and work that deserves more input goes neglected.

In psychological terms, procrastination is a trade-off between time and accomplishment. It adheres to the old adage of “never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today”. It’s what happens when the value of immediacy is outweighed by your schedule or desired productivity structure.

Contrary to the cliché that technology will make us more productive, many reports indicate it’s had the opposite effect. An online survey by the Procrastination Research Group at Canada’s Carleton University, found 46 per cent of 2,700 respondents reported procrastination “very much” impacts their happiness; 18 per cent reported an "extreme negative effect".

Procrastination is a subtle beast, which can have devastating consequences. It can mean nothing ever gets your full attention and work that deserves more input goes neglected. It obviously doesn’t look good to your colleagues, either.

For freelancers, contractors and people who run their own businesses, procrastination can be the difference between making that next rent or mortgage payment ‑ or not. To be productive in an environment where you control your own schedule, time management is everything. 

Thankfully there are plenty of tricks and tools to help you do both.

A woman laying in grass looking at tablet

Step one: the pomodoro technique

Coined by developer, entrepreneur and author Francesco Cirillo in the early '90s, the Pomodoro Technique is the simple method of breaking down any large task into short, timed intervals ‑ or "Pomodoros" ‑ spaced out by short breaks. Write down a task, focus on it for 25 minutes without interruption, then take a break for five minutes. Only then can you check emails, return phone calls, boil the kettle ‑ never during the Pomodoro itself. This takes the pressure off by breaking down projects into manageable chunks and allows you to concentrate without distractions. 

Step two: control your environment

Time to turn off email alerts, put your phone in Do Not Disturb mode, and change your Out-of-Office response to say you're swamped with deadlines/meetings and will respond to emails tomorrow. Another handy cheat is to block out time on your calendar to devote to a particular task or project, so your colleagues know what you’re working on ‑ and not to disturb you!

Step three: there's an app for that

RescueTime gives you a picture of your daily computer habits and calculates exactly how much time you spend working versus time spent browsing social media and other non-work related tasks. 

Time Tracker allows you to allocate, measure and bill for time. You can track time on the go, employees can enter timesheets from any compatible device for approval, plus you can view detailed productivity reports. 

Spark saves hundreds of emails going back and forth through the use of instant messages, the ability to chat in person via video, and file sharing the same version of recent documents.

Plan is a planning interface that, as the title suggests, helps you plan your life. 

Trello is an excellent column-based task-management website that lets you track projects as they move from “in progress” to “completed”. 

With all of these techniques and tools at your disposal, you should have no excuse but to sit down and focus. 

Visit

the Telstra website for more productivity tools and apps. 

Find Out More

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