September 27, 2007

Overcoming Procrastination: Avoiding Technological Temptations

With all the gadgets and doo-dads we have these days to keep us "up-to-date," "tuned-in" and "ahead of the game," it is no wonder that these very same gadgets can create an environment ripe for procrastination. Who hasn't been in the midst of some major analysis or report only to flip over to your instant messenger or cell phone for a "quick break?" Yeah, yeah, hour later you're still sending text messages to every friend in your contact list. Been there. Done that.

So here are some quick tips that will streamline your technology and keep you on the right track.

1.) Organize your e-mail inbox using the 4-D plan. You'll want to create a folder or some other type of indicator for the first three categories. The last category should be pretty self-explanatory:

  • Do it now

  • Do it later

  • Delegate it

  • Dump it

2.) Reduce e-mail distractions. Turn off that annoying little pop-up box or sound alert that lets you know every time you have a new e-mail. This is especially important when you are trying to focus on an important project. It's hard to have laser focus when you have a ding ringing in your ears every few minutes.

3.) Turn off your instant messenger program. Yep, I know you're thinking, "I'll just go dark and make myself invisible to everyone." However, you still get little distractions every time someone logs on or off. And heaven forbid should someone IM you while you're "offline." Do yourself a favor and just turn it off completely. Believe me, that stack of books or papers on your desk will thank you.

4.) Turn off your cell phone. I'm going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume that you understand that it is incredibly impolite to have your cell phone on during important meetings, classes, business lunches, training sessions, etc. So, I'm just going to skip right over that. Instead, I'm referring to the period when you are working on important "have-to-get-it-done" type work. Even keeping your phone on vibrate can be distracting, so just do yourself a favor and turn it completely off.

5.) Let people know that you are still alive in an analog world. When you go "completely dark" and turn off all of your electronic gadgets, you are bound to get those messages asking if you are still alive. To preclude this reaction, you can send an e-mail to all pertinent parties telling them that you will be "out-of-pocket" during specific hours or for a certain duration. You could also set up an auto-responder e-mail that would automatically be mailed to anyone that e-mails you. In either case, you would want to provide a way of reaching you in case of an emergency.

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