Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Avoid the Time Suck

By nature, I am a procrastinator. I will leave things undone until the last possible minute. It's just the way I am. I accept that. I still need to get things done.

A time suck is phrase often used in the blogosphere which refers to activities that take a lot of your time, producing very little or no results. They don't help you get your chores done, or reach your goals. they just suck your time away.

I often spend entire days at my computer. I have three or four windows open at the same time. But most of it is non-productive in my life or my work. I may answer the occasional email that is work related, but it's usually just junk. I play a free online game that I have played for the past eight years. I log in to my Facebook account, just to read funny statuses, play more free games, and see what's going on in the lives of people I know. I read multiple blogs daily, most of which are personal finance. That is probably the most productive activity I do daily, as they help to keep me focused financially.

On my computer desk, I keep a paper and pen list of activities that I need/want to accomplish during the week. Some weeks, the list is very long. Sometimes, it is short. Usually there are a few items on the list that are quite time intensive activities. It's those items on the list that cause me to procrastinate. I despise doing anything that causes me to devote large blocks of time to complete. I spent some time thinking about why that bothers me so. I think it may be because I don't like getting interrupted before I finish one of the bigger tasks. Once I start, I want to be able to get it done, and not have to set it aside to complete at a later time. With how my life is, for a multitude of reasons, it is very likely I will have to stop somewhere in the process, only to restart later.

I know that time suck is a problem in my life. But the question is, what am I going to do about it?

Here's how I am trying to deal with time suck and my procrastination:

  • Keeping a running list of things I need to do; chores, phone calls, letters, emails, etc. When I cross one item off the list, I allow myself a small amount of time on one of my other activities once I've accomplished something.
  • I 'trick' myself by saying that I'll only spend 5 minutes doing a chore, or some other task. I know it will often take more than 5 minutes, but just by telling myself that, I can stop the time suck activity, and do something more productive.
  • Getting ahead of the game: If I can have files and various paperwork for an activity ready before I start it, it cuts down the overall block of time. Also, I will try to have my reports filed ahead of their deadline.
  • Move the computer chair: I'm less likely to stay at the computer for very long if I can't sit. If I move the chair to another area of the house just for one day, I hope to get more done.
Anyone who has spent any time on Facebook, online games, video games and other distractions know what Time Suck can do. How do you deal with it?

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