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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Sunday, 24 April 2016

THE ART OF NOT GETTING THINGS DONE

I've had a week of business travel and distractions from what's been waiting to be done on my desk. I knew at the beginning of the week what lay ahead, and set aside (in my head) time on airplanes, in other offices and places where I knew I would have time to kill in order to catch up on whatever needed doing. And here I sit with an accumulated backlog of admin and substantive work wondering what went wrong. For what it is worth, let me share my object lesson in #procrastination and #distraction.

First of all, you want to ensure that that you are always faced with a proper choice: either you could do something dreary that needs to be done, or else you should be able to do something more exciting, but less necessary. For instance, you could make a list of the business expenses you have racked up in your travels and need to submit to someone, or you could start reading an interesting book which someone has given you. No-brainer, right?

Secondly, always ensure that when faced with a choice of how to use your time most wisely, you choose the activity which you regard as the most wholesome and healthy for you, such as catching up on sleep deprivation from an early morning flight rather than reviewing the client agreement which you have been promising the client for the past week.

I am also quite a fan of the “I’m sure I’ll be able to fit it all in on Friday afternoon when it’s quieter” approach to pressing work on a Tuesday, except of course when Friday afternoon turns out to be anything but quiet, mostly because I’ve put too much off until then.

The fourth technique (which relates in many ways to the first technique) is the instant gratification approach to the week. It makes so much more sense to me to do what interests and feeds me mentally and emotionally first and then deal with the drudge. The only weakness with this approach is that I can almost always find the former to do (like writing this blog, for instance) at the expense of the other.

Finally, one of my favourites is to ensure that my mental tick list of things to do is never committed to paper. Written lists usually require you physically to tick things off, preferably in the order in which they appear. Mental tick lists, on the other hand, actually allow you to remove some things to do from the list if they are not especially enticing.

So, I hope that has been a helpful summary of prime procrastination techniques. They all work individually , but are best in combination. The greatest thing about them, of course, is they are also an excellent aid to delaying the onset of stress until things really have to be done.

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