We sit down to a new task, open a new blank document, and? Check our email! Noodle through our Facebook feed! Check (really quickly!) to see what time that new film is showing Friday night! Next thing we know, an hour has gone by, and the document is still, well, blank.
Here are a few strategies to cut the nonsense and get back to being productive.
It’s human. Every time you get an email, you just have to check it. Half the time, it’s some pharmacy, or politician, or airline, or an online retailer. Stop wasting your time reading what boil down to, basically, commercials. Take the ad time out of your day and focus on content. It’s like Netflix for your life!
Download Spamfighter Pro or MailWasher Pro, or utilize your Gmail spam filter. Take yourself off all those newsletters and lists you never really get anything from, but can’t help glancing at when you should be working.
SEE ALSO: How to Boost Your Productivity at Work
Prioritize your work
Don’t just work on the thing you’re dreading least; that’s an easy way for really important projects to fall by the wayside. Make a list of all your projects and deadlines, and rank them in order of importance and urgency.
Break work up into chunks
Too daunted by that huge new project to start? Break it up into actionable items, make a sub to-do list, and start chipping away at it piece by piece. Make reasonable, achievable goals, and get going. Eventually, the shape of the whole project will start to become clear and you’ll be riding the momentum of making progress.
Cut out the noise
De-clutter your desk. Move your photos out of visual range. Put your phone on silent and stick it in a drawer. Use software like Freedom or SelfControl to keep yourself off the Internet, if possible, or just your worst Internet sinkholes. If you have a really sweet view, hang a curtain you can shut when you can’t afford to daydream out the window.
Make a schedule
Estimate how long each of the day’s tasks will take you, and make a schedule for your day. Whether hour by hour or minute by minute, if you need micromanaging, set chunks of time aside for specific activities, including breaks. And don’t forget to give yourself a few minutes to chat to coworkers or check your texts.
Look inward to see your flaws
Usually we’re most prone to procrastination when we’re avoiding a task we don’t like. Figure out what your procrastination triggers are—and why. Not very good at a particular aspect of your job? Start taking steps to improve, like online tutorials or programs.
At the end of the day, your time is valuable. We spend the bulk of our lives at work. Why not make that time meaningful by getting real things done?