Everybody procrastinates. Students, parents, employees, employers, and every other human can’t help but procrastinate. No matter what you do, it’s close to impossible to get rid of procrastination if you’re not good at time management.
Time management and procrastination are very closely related as one affects the other. Procrastination, in particular, puts all your time management efforts to waste. If you can understand the how and why aspects of this concept, you can fight against procrastination and begin to use your time efficiently.
Effects of Procrastination
Procrastination is what happens when time management strategies are not utilized well. If you’ve been trying to make the most out of your time, you need to get rid of procrastination. Here are 3 ways that delaying tasks without a reason messes up your entire schedule.
This one’s a given. It’s easily understandable that if you keep putting off a task that you’re supposed to get done, you will be wasting a lot of time.
You probably have a schedule for the day. Let’s assume you work for 8 hours every day. Your schedule will include tasks that will require 8 hours of your time. However, somewhere in the middle of the day, you just didn’t want to do one particular task. You kept delaying it.
You end up wasting hours of your time that was meant to be utilized somewhere else. Unfortunately, there’s no way to bring back the time that has gone by. All you can do at the end of the day is to push all the pending tasks to the few remaining hours of the day, which inevitably creates a great deal of pressure and stress.
Stress Leads to Bad Performance
As stated in the previous point, procrastination leads to wasting a great deal of time. When you’re left with all the work and just a few hours to finish it all off, of course you’ll feel pressured and stressed.
The issue here is that even if you get into a boost mode and somehow manage 8 hours worth of work in four hours, you won’t be able to perform well. What does that do? It ruins your reputation at work because what you produce is not your best effort.
Bad performance can lead to further stress. Sometimes, your employer may even ask you to re-do the whole task all over again because it wasn’t satisfactory the first time around. This will add more to your existing to-do list. You’ll have to handle more in the same amount of time.
You’ll end up in a cycle of stress and bad time management just because you were careless a few times.
Extends Your Working Hours
The responsibilities that you delayed are sometimes manageable in a short time-frame, even after procrastination, but more often than not, it’s impossible to cover them within the same working hours.
Let’s take the previous example once again. You procrastinated for four hours. Now you half the time to finish off what you were supposed to do in eight hours. There’s a pretty big chance you’re unable to manage it, so your employer will tell you to stay back and finish the tasks for the day. You spend four extra hours in the office. The personal responsibilities you had to tackle in those four hours have to be rescheduled. You get home late, go to sleep later than usual, have a hard time waking up on time, and end up getting to work late.
Basically, it’s a cycle. Procrastinating once doesn’t have a one-time effect. It keeps getting carried on and makes your life harder. Time management is impossible if you keep procrastinating.
How to Stop Procrastinating and Manage Time Effectively
So, it’s clear by now that time management and procrastination are closely linked and that time management can help you avoid creating new difficulties with procrastination.
These two interdependent concepts require a good deal of work to be useful. Here are some tips on how you can manage time in a way that reduces the chances of procrastination.
1. Have an Effective Schedule
Everyone has a schedule that they follow. Some people have a rough idea of their responsibilities in their heads while others have it jotted down somewhere. If you want to improve your time management and stop procrastinating, you need to start making effective to-do lists.
If you’re a procrastinator, you need a very detailed schedule. Look at it this way: when you have a plan for every minute, you won’t have enough time to think about delaying anything. Every single activity will be calculated and timed.
A great thing you can do while making a detailed schedule like this is to break down your tasks. Instead of allotting one hour to a job, allot 10 minutes to different segments of it. Your mind will also find it easier to tackle small chunks in 10-minute intervals than to go ahead with a big task that will need 60 minutes.
2. Take Enough Breaks
Not allowing breaks to save time is the biggest waste of time. Working non-stop is a huge trigger for procrastination. Give your mind the sense of relief that you’ll have some time off after you finish a few tasks.
If you don’t have short breaks scheduled throughout the day, your brain will know that it has to work continuously. Unconsciously, you’ll want to squeeze some free time in between tasks. This is where you’re likely to start procrastinating.
On the other hand, if you allow yourself 5 minutes off after every 25 minutes, it will keep you motivated to work hard through the 25 minutes to get a break after that. It keeps you from procrastinating and also boosts your motivation.
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique
When you’re struggling to get a hold on time management and procrastination, it won’t be easy to manage it all alone. You should use supporting apps that will help you reach your goals more easily.
The Pomodoro Technique is all about time management and maintaining focus. It is a concept in which a person forces their attention on the task at hand for 25 minutes straight. You can then treat yourself to a 5-minute break or continue working for another 25 minutes. After 2 hours, you get a longer break.
Numerous applications help you implement the Pomodoro Technique. Use them to monitor and divide your time effectively.
You know that you’re likely to procrastinate at some point in the day, but you also know that you’re the most motivated after the lunch break.
Schedule your most important work at the time when you know you’re most likely to be productive. Even if you keep pushing yourself the rest of the day, at least you’ll have the relief of fulfilling the urgent responsibilities on time.
Prioritization may not solve procrastination, but it can help you manage time in a way that, even if you slack a bit, it won’t harm you.
5. Monitor Your Behavior
The best way to stop yourself from procrastinating is to keep an eye on yourself. Track your behavior. Write down where you’re spending all of your time. How much of it was spent on work, and how much did you spend distracted by the bee on your window?
If you’re using an app for time management, you can monitor your activities to some extent. For more efficiency, make a conscious effort to remember where you’ve spent every single minute of the day.
The next step is to eradicate the causes of procrastination and minimize the distractions. If the bee on the window keeps you occupied for a good five minutes, shift your office space. Put your chair in a different spot so that you cannot look out the window. Turn off your phone so you don’t waste time scrolling on social media.
As for the material distractions, you can easily find a way to get rid of them. For mental distractions, you may want to add in a 10-minute meditation session before starting the day. It will help you practice mindfulness throughout the day.
6. Learn to Say No
Start by figuring out what makes you want to procrastinate. Usually, people procrastinate on tasks that they find boring, too hard, ambiguous, or meaningless.
If you doubt you’ll have fun doing a job, or you know you won’t be able to perform well, simply refuse to do it.
However, there are some cases in which you just cannot say no, when you are obliged to fulfill the responsibility regardless of whether or not you’re interested. In those cases, put the other tips to use so that you can get it done without compromising your work duties.
The Bottom Line
Clearly, procrastination is entirely dependent on the absence or presence of good time management strategies. Time management and procrastination are intertwined, but where you find one, you likely won’t find the other.
The above tips will help you find a way out of delaying your work and wasting precious time. Start practically using this advice so that you too can make the most of your life!
More Time Management Tips
When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.
Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.
Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.
Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.
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Effective vs Efficient
Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”
A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.
Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.
The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.
Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.
When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.
Effectiveness in Success and Productivity
Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.
The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.
If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.
When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:
- Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
- What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
- Does the cost balance out with the benefit?
Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.
Efficiency in Success and Productivity
Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.
When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.
Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.
The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.
If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.
Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.
The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.
Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity
Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.
If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.
It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.
Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.
Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.
Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.
By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.
It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.
Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:
- Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
- Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
- Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.
And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.