"Waste Time Faster." This is a phrase on a billboard advertising high speed internet. I laugh each time I see it, but it also makes me think about how much time we do waste on the internet. Playing around online is just one of many activities we use to avoid getting things done. Of course, the things we are avoiding are usually things that may be difficult or not so pleasant.

Avoidance behavior is a component of procrastination. Some causes of procrastination are task related anxiety, fear of failure, perfectionism, and lack of knowledge. When you think about that it's no wonder we find such creative ways to avoid tackling those tasks. Imagine that you have agreed to take on a new project at work. You are pretty excited because you know that the success of this event will have a positive impact on your career. Once the excitement wears off a little, you realize there are some pieces of this project that you aren't quite sure how to get complete. Each time you sit down to get started on the project, you feel overwhelmed or don't really know where to begin. So, what do you do? Maybe you start some project related research on the internet. Then you remember that you really wanted to check out the scores from Sunday's football games. Ladies, your example might be a little different, but I think you know where I'm going with this. As you check out the football scores, you see a link to a video of a spectacular play. You proceed to watch the video and see some other videos that look interesting. An hour later, you've caught up on all the football scores, watched some re-plays, and maybe a few hilarious videos of kids dancing to "booty" music. It's time for lunch so you head out the door having accomplished nothing related to the project.

Does that sound remotely familiar to anyone? I will be the first to admit that I do this very thing when I am doing something new or something that might push me a little outside my comfort zone. But we also use these techniques to avoid everyday tasks. Here are three steps to help minimize your task avoidance time wasters.

Three steps to curbing avoidance behavior

1) Awareness is the first step in changing any behavior. If you recognized yourself in the example and you want to change this behavior, pay attention to what avoidance behaviors you are engaging. Surfing the internet is just one form of avoidance behavior. Some other examples are watching television, reading magazines, hallway conversations with colleagues, checking email. To be clear, none of things is necessarily bad, but when used to avoid other, more important tasks, they will kill your productivity. Identify your avoidance techniques.

2) Minimize distractions. Once you have identified your avoidance behaviors, it's important that you come up with strategies to reduce the likelihood that you will engage them. My top two avoidance behaviors are checking email and internet surfing. When I need to work on important project it's best that I am in an environment where the internet is not available. Or the connection is so slow that it's annoying! I have also discovered that I work best away from my home office and in a place with something pleasing to look at. Those of us working from home have so many potential distractions. Laundry, dishes, kids, spouses, and pets. It's really helpful to find a place that allows you to concentrate. So, what can you do to minimize your distractions?

3) Get things done. Finally, get it done! Sometimes tasks seem a lot more difficult that they really are. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you will get done when you minimize your distractions and truly focus on the task at hand.

I hope this information helps you to get more done this week! Remember that the objective is not to cram your life with "things to do", but to get things done in less time so that you can spend more time enjoying your life!

Author's Bio: 

Ellen Martin in the founder of A New Leaf, LLC, a company dedicated to helping people to clear clutter from their physical and mental environments so that they can live the lives they truly desire. If you liked today's issue, you'll love Ellen's powerful training programs and products designed to help you streamline your office, home and life. You can learn more about Ellen and her programs at www.OrganizationalExperts.com.