5 Ways Technology Can Help Avoid Procrastination

November 29, 2011

November 29, 2011

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Procrastination is something we all battle no matter how organized or motivated the person. Even those who never miss a beat at work likely have a few projects at home that could use their attention. Because the Internet, TV, and cell phones are the biggest enablers to our procrastinating ways, it only make sense to use them as a preventative measure. Here’s a step-by-step approach to attacking a project with technology on your side.

1. Planning

The planning phase of any project, job, or event is an essential to being organized and staying on task. It allows you to map out goals and strategies so that you can create an accurate schedule moving forward. There are many types of project management software but here’s what we’ve used. Basecamp by 37signals seems to be the industry standard but many use the standard Google Docs suite. My personal favorite is the relatively new Trello by Fog Creek Software.Trello is a list of lists that allows me to quickly and easily get all of my thoughts out of my head. And, organizing after the fact is as simple as drag and drop. For Musefy, we created a board for development, marketing, and our MVP, Proptone. Within those boards, we create ‘lists of lists’ and collaborate between each member of the team with discussions and check lists.Trello BoardsTrello Lists

2. Scheduling

After sketching out the big picture, it’s time to devise a schedule and add those tasks to your calendar. If you’re not using a calendar religiously, start. Some holdouts claim that paper calendars work best but the features available in software calendars can be crucial to staying on task.There are plenty of calendar programs available these days but the obvious winner is Google Calendar. Integration with Gmail, Google Docs, and support by Apple’s iCal, it’s hardly worth looking elsewhere.Support for multiple, latered calendars makes it easy to keep an entire team in the loop. With multiple sharing options and sync to mobile devices, we always know what the FeeFighters are up to. That comes in especially handy since we don’t work in a traditional office setting and we frequently have members of the team working from the road, coffee shops, or from home.

3. Reminders

If you’re not used to checking a calendar on a regular basis, adding your tasks is just the first step. I recommend having your calendar a mouse click away at all times whether it’s in a different tab or a program such as iCal. But, if that’s annoying for you, that’s why reminders were created. When you create an event in Google Calendar, you can set it to remind you at almost any interval of your choosing. You can set it to remind you via popup, email or text message to ensure nothing slips past you.Google Calendar Reminders

4. Time Tracking

It’s hard to make a plan and schedule the time for tasks when you don’t know how much time they will take. Add the fact that most people take frequent breaks which are often longer than they realize and with a few trips to Facebook, you can easily squander valuable time.I’ve found that Toggl is the simplest time-tracking tool since it has both a web and mobile version. For only $5 a month, I know just how much time I’ve spent on each of my projects.TogglThe time-tracking features included in Basecamp’s To-Dos works great if you’re already using their software as well.

5. Consolidation

Lastly, you can cut down on the amount of distraction by consolidating accounts that you check frequently. For email, you can either funnel all of your messages into a single gmail account and sort by filters or use Sparrow mail app to organize multiple gmail accounts in a single app that adds a universal inbox.SparrowAnd, if you consume as much news as we do on a regular basis, it proves beneficial to consolidate all of the sites you read into a single space. For that, we look to Google Reader. I’m able to organize RSS and Atom feeds from all the different types of sites that I frequent including, music, photography and tech.Google ReaderThe key to overcoming procrastination is of course implementation. If you haven’t already, spend some time setting up the apps and spend a few weeks working through the steps in order. You’ll be amazed at how productive your day can become with technology on your side.Image credit

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