Maximize Your Bandwidth, Beat Procrastination, and Increase Your Income'/

(Image by Viktor Hertz)

Recently I was asked if I had the bandwidth to complete a project. Since I’ve been writing for this company for nearly two years, I was surprised that they would inquire about my Internet capabilities now. I wasn’t sure how it mattered until—in those split seconds it takes for all these thoughts to travel through my head—I realized they were talking about me as if I were a computer. Do I have the bandwidth?

So, what does that mean? Time, yes. Ability, of course. But how does one measure personal bandwidth? And how does one maximize their bandwidth to increase income opportunities? Here are six tips to help recognize procrastination patterns, maximize your bandwidth, and earn more money in the process.

1. Stop Thinking About Doing It, and Do It.

When I need to interview a source, I think about the direction the article will go, write out all the questions I need to ask, strategize what the best day would be to call. And I keep thinking, “Or wait… Should I Skype them instead?” If we talk over Skype, it’s easier to record, but I could have them on speakerphone and record that way. And it goes on… when all I really need to do is punch nine buttons into my phone and get it done.

In part it’s my disposition. I want to get things right. But in seeking not to fail, I keep myself in a different sort of failure—inaction. And that inaction can lead up to missed deadlines or sloppy work as I rush to get things done at the last minute. As Eva Young says, “To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.” Or, as paraphrased from another blogger, 85 percent of the things you do account for only 15 percent of your results. And vice versa. Therefore, do the critical first. Losers do the opposite.

2. Just Say No.

Ever notice that when it’s time to do what you need to do, there’s almost always something more fun that you could be doing? As I’m writing this, friends reach out and ask me to breakfast. (Should I mention that it’s almost noon?) I love hanging with friends. I love breakfast. So, why wouldn’t I go? Because it’s my writing time. When distractions surface—and they always, always, always will—learn to say no. This is not fun, but so is feeling bad about yourself for not getting your work done.

3. Surround Yourself with Productive People.

My noon-breakfast friends are actually very hard-working people. The neat, organized nature of their home has inspired countless attempts on my behalf to become tidier. The same goes at work. Surround yourself with people who get things done, and learn from them. Or, if nothing else, feel intimidated that unless you perform as well, you won’t have a job. That keeps me going some days.

4. Start with Your Hardest Task.

Normally, I “warm up” to get into the day. Eat breakfast, check email, some light chores, but by the time I get to the heavy lifting, I’ve already put it off and I feel stressed about getting to it. However, today, instead of making breakfast I pulled out the computer and wrote this article from beginning to end. Guess what? It didn’t take the 20-plus hours I feared it would.

Yes, I was hungry by the time I finally ate, but I was also accomplished. And I was freed, by breakfast, to tackle the lighter weight tasks—which now feel like nothing in comparison. This one strategy is brilliant because you don’t have time to dread the project and build it up in your mind, and once you finish, you feel relaxed, good about yourself, and more capable for your other assignments.

5.  If You’re a Chronic Procrastinator Consider Seeing a Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist.

This is one I didn’t do to help me with this article, but I wonder if I should?

Joseph R. Ferrari, author of Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done, says that at some point everyone procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator. He defines a procrastinator as someone who habitually and consistently delays tasks. He says that about 20 percent of the world’s population deals with this tendency, but that those behaviors, with help, can be unlearned—with professional help, that is.

 6. Measure Your Productivity.

It’s not enough to get one job done. Life demands that we keep up the pace day after day, and measuring your productivity can help you achieve more over the long haul. Keep a time log, measured in 15-minute increments, of what you do throughout the day. It may be hard to face how much time you waste, but that is exactly what you need to get motivated. Also, once you know how much time you actually need to get your work accomplished, instead of just blocking off random amounts of time for a project, you’ll give yourself only the time you need. This will actually free up your time so that you’ll be more productive and have greater personal freedom—and need I say it? The extra money you earn from “getting things done,” will also allow you to earn—and save more money—to enjoy that free time.


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Published May 18, 2012 Updated: December 27, 2012
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