Have you ever wished there was more time in the day to accomplish your goals at work and in your personal life? Are you so overwhelmed by everything you have to do that you find yourself procrastinating at work?
What is the meaning of procrastination? Simply said, procrastination means to defer an action, to delay it, to put it off till another day or time.
If you don’t really have time to read this article, this is a sign that you are procrastinating right now.
Abraham Lincoln is known as one of the most important presidents in American history. He was well known for his energy and productivity. Once he said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
And here is a short story which hopefully will inspire you. (source: http://academictips.org/blogs/the-story-of-a-woodcutter)
Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so was the work condition. For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.
His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he supposed to work.
The first day, the woodcutter brought 18 trees.
“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”
Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only bring 15 trees. The third day he tried even harder, but he could only bring 10 trees. Day after day he was bringing less and less trees.
“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.
“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”
Here are 3 powerful tips on how to escape from the “I don’t have time” trap and overcome procrastination
1. Change your limiting beliefs
Watch Your Thoughts, They Become Words; Watch Your Words, They Become Actions.
- We have every day round about 70,000 thoughts. Our thoughts are jumping from one scene to the next one. While talking on the phone we are thinking about checking e-mails and suddenly we remember that we forgotten to buy one important item which your spouse asked you to do. Just to give few examples. In addition to that, we have our beliefs (many are from our childhood) and just like that, we have our habits, like checking e-mails first thing in the morning or interrupt an activity we are working on whenever a new e-mail pops up.
- These thoughts, beliefs and habits lead to certain emotions, like joy, fear or anger just to mention few of them.
- These emotions affect our behavior, so what we do or don’t do. Suppose we are overwhelmed by everything and we feel a huge pressure to accomplish our daily/weekly or monthly goals. As a consequence, we will try to work harder and harder doing many things at a time hoping to get everything accomplished. So these emotions of pressure, fear of not getting everything done and lack of time will drive us to specific behaviors.
- The outcome is a result of our behaviors. And the results then will confirm and strengthen our beliefs.
The below picture explains the 4 steps I described above.
Here is a 4 Steps proven strategy to change limiting beliefs.
2. Focus on what is truly essential
Do you remember the story with the woodcutter? Take your time in the morning and prioritize the tasks you want to accomplish. When it comes to making decisions and prioritizing your work related tasks, think in terms of what’s crucial and urgent and what isn’t as important or pressing.
I want to share with you two prioritization techniques because there is always more to do than there is time or to permit:
a. Eisenhower decision Matrix
b. MoSCoW Technique
The MoSCoW prioritization technique is often used where a deadline is fixed so that you can focus on the most important tasks or activities. MoSCoW stays for Must-Should-Could-Won’t have. Let’s have a closer look:
- Must Have: Think about all the tasks which really must be accomplished by the end of the day respectively by the deadline. These are really the critical ones.
- Should Have: The Should Have tasks are important but not necessary to be delivered by the end of the day. They are important but are not time critical.
- Could Have: All the Could Have tasks are nice to have. They can be done if the time permits.
- Won’t Have this time: These are activities which can be dropped or postponed for a period of time.
3. Tame your monkey mind
Our mind jumps all the time from here to there, from the past into the future. Like a monkey in a cage. The Buddhists call it the monkey mind.
What you have to learn is to find your balance by introducing still moments in your day, mindful moments. The key to achieve this is learning to focus.
The best way you can do that is to meditate daily at least 10 minutes. Meditating is the most effective technique you can use to calm your monkey mind. By meditating you’ll be training your mind to become still and you’ll be regaining power and control over your thoughts. If you create a daily practice of meditation you’ll become skilled at quieting your mind and at silencing the monkey mind at will. (source https://daringtolivefully.com/tame-your-monkey-mind)
Let’s do this very simple exercise:
Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Now ask yourself the following question: I’m very curious which my next thought will be. And keep observing your thoughts.
You will be surprised to see that for a couple of seconds there is pure silence in your head, no thoughts at all. After a while, they will come back.
This is a very powerful exercise to learn to observe your thoughts.
The second one is a breathing exercise:
- Inhale deeply as fast as you can
- Hold your breath for ca. 3 seconds (count from 1 to 3)
- Exhale slowly for ca. 6 seconds
- Pause (hold your breath) for 1 second
- Exhale the rest for ca. 6 second
- Pause (hold your breath) for 1 second
- Start from the beginning and inhale deeply and as fast as you can
Repeat this cycle 4 times, this will take around 1 minute. What happened to your thoughts?
How do you feel after that?
The more you learn to focus and the more time you spend in the present moment, the less you feel the pressure of time. Why? Because it feels like being always NOW.