Procrastination is one of those insidious forces that keep us from doing important tasks and accomplishing our goals. It comes in many forms, from the seductive TV show that draws you in, to the suspense caption on your web browser about the latest Hollywood gossip, or even the benign water cooler calling you to get up for another drink.
In our busy lives distractions come at all angles… phone calls, e-mails, drop in guests… If we want to get something done we need a way to stay focused on the important things throughout the day. We need some simple tools that can help us stay on track and are easy enough to use that we don’t have to think about them.
I’ve been experimenting with three tools that I think you might find useful. Each one of these is simple to setup and keep updated. The price is right too… You can try each one for free.
The first is a web site called Joe’s Goals. Joe has created a simple web based tool to put your daily goals on your browser screen where you can access them from almost any computer or browser enabled cell phone. The interface is clean and is setup in weekly calendar format. You just setup the categories on the left side of the calendar and track them in the calendar cells to the right.
When you have accomplished the goal for the day, you just click on the calendar cell and a green check mark appears giving you confirmation that the task is done. It’s simple and effective. You can also setup negative goals that you don’t want to do as in the eat out example in the picture above. If you do the negative action, a red check mark appears.
I like Joe’s Goals since I can pull it up at work or home and even on my smart phone. The basic ad-enabled site is free and it is simple enough to be effective. The web site even has a get inspired section to see how others are using it and a cool logbook section to journal your activities.
The second tool is the Smart To-Do List by Scott Karstetter. This useful piece of software is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy of next actions. You just install the software on your Windows PC and open the simple interface. You enter your projects one by one and then fill out a to-do list for each one.
If you are a GTD aficionado you can also tag each item with an @-Tag. For example, you can use the “@ computer” tag to mark items that you would do using a computer and a “@ phone” tag to do items that would require a telephone.
The interface is no frills but that is really its power. The software is very simple to use and can be left running on your machine throughout the day. When you have accomplished a to-do item, you just click the little X next to it and the step disappears.
You can filter by tag so you can see all the tags for a given item on one screen. For example, you can filter by “@ phone” to see all the phone calls you need to make. This one feature makes this a very useful tool. You can download a test version that is limited to two projects for free or pick up the full version for a reasonable $14.95.
The last item on the list is our own “Walleteer” cards that help you take your to-do list or next actions with you wherever you go. This set of cards is printed out on Avery business card stock and can be displayed on your desk using a simple pencil and clip viewing station.
This set of cards has 9 different cards for common uses. Just print up a few sets and keep them by your desk. Use a Sharpie marker to fill out your daily goals and put the cards on your desk where you can see them. It’s a simple but effective system to help you overcome procrastination and truly get things done.
Using any one of these systems along with a 48 Minute Focused Work Philosophy will help you overcome even the toughest procrastination. If you find yourself struggling to get things done, why not try one of these tools today… come on now… don’t put it off…