Procrastination or, in layman's terms, just putting things off for ‘later’ is a problem faced by almost all people, including programmers. The modern lifestyle has its own demands and we need to stay on target with our to-dos, so to save you from losing your grip on your daily tasks here are couple of tips to help you get stuff done.
Procrastination or, in layman's terms, just putting things off for ‘later’ is a problem faced by almost all people, including programmers. It’s perfectly natural to avoid hard, inconvenient or unpleasant tasks. However, when procrastination starts to take over our life and makes you utterly unproductive, things start to turn sour. The modern lifestyle has its own demands and we need to stay on target with our to-dos, so to save you from losing your grip on your daily tasks here are couple of tips to help you get stuff done.
Start from the morning - just get up
How many times have you come across this situation: your alarm clock goes off and within a second you hit snooze, then when it goes off again snooze comes to the rescue once more. Now, this might end up sounding easier said than done, but a great way to develop the habit of not putting things for later is by forcing yourself to get up as soon as your alarm clock goes off. Although wallowing in bed might seem a great idea at the time, the get-up tactic can really help you to reinforce your self-discipline and effectively help you to overcome the temptation to slack off.
A good habit is to put your alarm clock (or phone) far away from the bed - forcing you to actually get up to turn it off. If you feel too attached to your machine, try sleep tracking apps, e.g. Sleep Cycle, Mathe Alarm Clock (it makes you solve a simple mathematical equation to turn off the alarm - how ingenious!), or Puzzle Alarm Clock (same thing, but with puzzles).
Turn off distractions
While you’re working the time will come when you’ll be tempted to check out something on the web. Social networks, emails and other sites entice you with constant cries of “Check me! Check me!”, so if you have problems with ignoring app notifications - get a browser plugin (try, for instance, block-site for Chrome or leechblock for Firefox) to block certain websites for the time you need to spend productively. After work - go crazy, scroll through your entire Facebook feed, google that song you heard last Friday that goes na-na-nanana, just remember not to do that while you need to focus.
Make a list of things you need to get done. Divide your chores into small, easy to follow and complete chunks. Having a vast, complex task might get overwhelming; however, working through it bit by bit can help you stay focused on each task and of course you’ll see your progress faster. A tried and tested strategy is to make a list of things you need to do the day before. Hey, there are apps for that: Wunderlist, Task, or simply Google Calendar. This way you can let your brain dissect and adjust for your next day’s onslaught.
The pomodoro technique
This is a simple yet effective technique. What you need is a timer that you can set for a particular time interval (typically 25 minutes with a 5-minute break). You set up the timer and for the time given you focus entirely on the task at hand. After a while you can set larger intervals to challenge yourself, but 15 minutes works just fine - just don’t feel pressurised to set it to 5 hours for an intense stretch of work. Trying to stay focused on one thing for longer periods of time or doing the classic multitasking (“I’m working on 50 things simultaneously and can’t finish any of them”) won’t make you more productive. Go easy on yourself. If you fancy, why not check out a few deliciously named apps like Pomodoro Keeper in App Store, Tomato Timer, Marinara Timer, ClearFocus.
After you got up without any moaning and groaning in the morning and used the pomodoro technique for your tasks, you can take a little break. Kick back a bit: do something different for a while to keep your brain fresh and ready for the next task ahead.
Hopefully these tips will go some way towards getting things done easier and faster. Although - as with all advice - they might trite or just plain pointless, why not give them a shot? If you have your own anti-procrastination hacks, we'll be happy to see them in the comments!