When you feel as if you're not being as productive as you could be, or that you have strayed from your desired path, ask yourself: "What is the most effective use of my time?"
Suppose you face a variety of unrelated tasks, and what day does that not happen? Or, you face a variety of related tasks on the same project. Asking yourself what is the most effective use of my time invariably helps direct you to that task, which at present, merits your attention.
At any given moment you have the opportunity to make a choice, even if a task or project has been going well, you have the opportunity to make the choice as to how to use your time starting at that moment.
Generally, speaking, when the self-directed question arises, it's an indication that you're facing some sort of quandary, and probably need to redirect your efforts. So ask yourself the question anytime you feel the need.
When faced with a situation I would prefer to put off, I ask myself another type of question: "Will it be any easier later?" If the task will be easier later, then I have rational justification for not proceeding on that particular task.
For example, if I have to organize all the receipts related to a certain project that will be in progress for another week, I can readily put off this task for another week. Then, with all the receipts collected, I can organize them accordingly, knowing I can do the job until its ultimate completion.
If the task won't be any easier later, then it largely makes sense to proceed now, particularly if it might be more difficult later. Preparing for a speech, an interview, or a test or exam several days beforehand is a wiser approach to studying rather than cramming the night before.
Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" and the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com