I have been guilty of sometimes leaving stuff to do till the last possible millisecond — for example paying bills. To get over this habit I found the following ways to be useful.
1. Don’t Overthink, Act Immediately
Whenever I saw white utility or credit card envelopes in the mailbox, I tended to perch them atop the ‘special mail area’ on the living room glass table to open within a reasonable time and there they would stay snugly— till the next wave of bills. So now, even when walking away from the mailbox towards the house, I stop and open all the bills and pay them over the next half hour, without giving myself a chance of thinking I will do it later. This has worked and all bills are now paid like clockwork.
2. Create Calendar Events In Advance Instead of To-Do Lists on Paper
There are some appointments that come up regularly every week — or every few months and there is a substantial chance one could forget them. For instance, if you have a hairdresser appointment 23 days from now and you will not get reminder emails before the event, it might slip your mind. An effective way is to create calendar reminders on your mobile device for a day prior to the actual appointment — to refresh your memory in time for next day — also giving you the 24 hour window needed by most establishments to cancel/re-book anything without charge. I also add fun reminders to myself, complete with emojis and emoticons to keep it all interesting. At least for me, a to-do list 23 days in advance would be useless, since I would just put it away in a convenient purse and leave it there, doomed unread forever.
3. Promise Myself Small Rewards
I have been putting off writing this post for 2 days due to other pressing matters, so I promised myself that I can watch my favorite TV show for 30 minutes after I finish this. I am looking forward to it now. This is a strategy I have found to work well because it is human nature to respond well to attractive incentives. I am going to use it to write much more that I currently do, so watch this space.
4. Keep Away From Facebook, Twitter And All Procrastination Fueling Social Media Platforms Immediately Upon Waking Up
If I have my phone near me when I wake up, I do not have the willpower not to peek-a-boo it ‘just for a single second’ — and this single second then turns into half an hour, with me tapping away busily on twitter and Facebook or getting hooked to the lovely stories on Medium. I started keeping the phone across the room, 5 steps away from me and I don’t touch it till I am ready for the day. The added bonus is that you cannot just flip over and hit the snooze button.
5. Prioritize the Five Elephants In The Room Daily
At least for me, if I think I have 500 things to do on a particular day, I end up procrastinating on most of them. So I prioritize tasks based on their importance or urgency— the five elephants in the room that have to be fed mandatorily or they will trample away my day with their rage. This has helped me manage my time better.
These ways have worked in keeping me organized and on time but I know there are many more strategies that help. You are all welcome to chip in with them in response.