Hands-up straight away, we’ve been meaning to write this for ages, but put it off.

As the year draws to an end it is perhaps time to look at procrastination, the ‘thief of time’. The reason so many of those big plans for 2010 never got off the ground.

In the modern world with so many distractions, it is easy to see why procrastination is still one of the biggest obstacles to business success, so how can we overcome it? Here are six ways:

Do your To Dos!
There are plenty of task reminder programs out there like Remember the Milk, the good old Outlook tasks list, even traditional pen and paper, so there is no excuse not to make a list of things you need to to. The issue is usually actually doing them. Lists need to be prioritised or at least grouped and with a deadline set. Try and set yourself easy-wins, alongside more intense tasks, so you don’t constantly feel overwhelmed. Write everything down on that list too, otherwise  you will find yourself working off several different lists at a time all with different items. Even if you have one massive list, by grouping and prioritising you can make it managable.

Have a set time to organise
Set aside an hour or two at the start of the week to assess and re-asses your to-do list. Make sure your list is up to date, realistic and accurate. A little time spent organising at the start of the week will mean you will be much more productive come the end of the week when many more things have been thrown your way. Make your assessment of your to dos realistic. You might be governed by management and business necessity but you also need some autonomy over what tasks and goals you set and when.

Re-assess your priorities during the week
Your todo list should be your guide but not you governor. Things will change daily, even hourly sometimes. You will actually find yourself more productive overall if you take half hour every day, either at the end or beginning to re-assess your list.

Limit your hours for Social Networking
Yes, we know it can be a great marketing tool, but it can also be the biggest  procrastination distraction to your working life. If you must monitor your business Twitter account, etc 24/7 then make sure that is all you do. Don’t fall into the trap of just checking your personal account while you are there.

Use do not disturb
An hour per day of pure focus on the task in hand and you will find you get much more done – in that hour and beyond. Turn off social networking, close down your email, switch off your phones, even your PC if you can. Deal with one task at a time, work logically through it and close it off, at least as far as you can at that time.

Set some long term goals to
The reason big companies set 5 year and 10 year plans is that they work. It is great to strike off small tasks as you achieve them but you also need to be able to see how each of these slot into the bigger picture. Have a separate list of longer-term goals and pick one out every now and then and move it into your weekly to do list. You might not crack it immediately but over a few weeks you will and by doing so you will also be expanding your business future.

Remember, there really is no better time than now, but the most fun task might not be the most effective one.

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