End the Cycle of Procrastination
We spend a lot of time at our desks and in our offices; we write, we blog, we talk, we file, we type and we procrastinate and if you are anything like me then dear goodness we procrastinate. What is it that makes us lose focus so much? Psychology Today published and interesting article indicating that 20% of us procrastinate chronically across all domains of our lives, they claim this to be to extent of some of us not paying bills on time and not even cashing in gift vouchers. It may sound a little extreme but it’s more commonplace than you would think. Surprisingly procrastination isn’t an issue with time management as chronic procrastinators are often more optimistic with how they spend their time than those who aren’t as distraction-prone. Instead it seems to be that when we procrastinate it’s a matter of choice whether we are actively aware of it or not, because we often unconsciously search for distractions to take us away from the tasks ahead – so what’s the best way to stop wasting our time like this?
There are a few ways to try and beat the cycle of procrastination with the obvious being to change our state of mind and become more aware of the triggers in the environment. I on the other hand opted for making my workspace beautifully minimalist (my home followed soon after). I’m going to tackle a few myths about living a minimalist lifestyle here – yes you do have to get rid of stuff but you don’t have to get rid of things which are of value to you. The word minimalism strikes fear into the hearts of those visualising having to give away their grandmothers good china and I’m with you on this – however it’s an individual experience and minimalism is about finding the happy medium for you as person not someone else’s happy medium and having to squeeze it into your own life. Don’t be a follower but embrace what it is to be a leader by doing things your way and create your own definition of minimalist living.
The Minimalist Office
When I decided to take action on procrastination I started creating the perfect office by making some simple changes to the items which were causing the problem in the first place. This involved getting rid of or relocating all obvious visual clutter, so basically items which were proving to be a distraction in one way or another and believe it or not finally getting to the point of having a clutter-free office is one of the most liberating feelings in the world. It may sound like a drastic change but creating a junk-free office is quite simple when you follow these simple steps;
- Ensure all televisions, gaming devices and other distractions are out of the office as these are simply too hard to resist when you can’t focus.
- Aim for an empty or near empty desk. A simple pen pot, family photo and a computer are my basics and this is a dramatic improvement from the collection of post-it notes, cartoon toys and unfiled paperwork. Aim to have a sleek desktop with as much space as possible.
- Take away visual distractions in the form of posters and so forth – opt for art that’s simple an inspiring instead of a poster ordering you to Keep Calm and Type On.
- Begin to see what you can add to simplify the décor, additions such as faux wood blinds and simple canvas paintings are a great way to simplify that workspace in style.
- Get an inbox tray and use it only as an inbox tray, so once you take something out of it the task is dealt with, filed isn’t put back in. My fiancé works for me in my cupcake business and has got used to this system – he knows which tray to put certain items into it and this is a great way to make sure your office life runs smoothly. So make sure you let your employees and co-workers know about this system too – they may be reluctant to use it but gently remind them whenever someone simply dumps a load of paperwork on your desk.
Whatever style you go for I can’t emphasise enough how much of a difference a simple work environment makes to both your overall levels of productivity as well as your ability to focus on a single task. Often we don’t realise how much of an impact visual clutter and décor has on our ability to work well and if you think it won’t help much, maybe there’s only one way to find out?
Laura O’Hanlon is the creator of the blogs Living Minimalist and Sweeter Business. She writes daily on Minimalist Living, Business Start-ups and Better Finance for Women.