Procrastination! We all do it to varying degrees… When was the last time you procrastinated? And is it stopping you from being at your best at work? Or perhaps, even worse… causing your career to stall? When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks until it’s too late.
And when it’s indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier. Many times I can remember doing THIS when I probably should have been doing THIS! Undeniably, you know when you are procrastinating and the pain it will cause you later but that doesn’t stop you. While we’d all like to be super focused 24/7, that’s just not realistic and attempting to do so, will just burn you out. So the objective is not to eliminate procrastination but reduce it as much as possible. These 6 practical tips will help you to plan better, reduce temptation and motivate you to move.
Break your work into little steps
Part of the reason why we procrastinate is that subconsciously, we find the work overwhelming. By breaking the work down into smaller tasks, it allows you to focus and get the job done. The trick here is to focus on one task at a time without thinking about what’s coming next. Now, if you still find you are procrastinating then you might not have broken down the task enough. Try breaking it down even further and keep going until your brain says “Gee, this is so simple I may as well do it now!”. In fact, the great Dr. Demartini actually sites poorly broken down tasks as one of the four major causes of procrastination. So it’s important to not only break down tasks but spend some time breaking them into the right-sized chunks.
Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines
Having just one deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because you can get the impression you have time on your side and keep pushing everything back. Use tip 1 to break your project down, then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task.
This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Having smaller deadlines will create urgency to act well before the final deadline. Deadlines can be broken into monthly, weekly, or even right down to daily tasks. Once you’ve done this and you’re ready to get down to some work, it’s time for tip 3.
Eliminate your procrastination pit-stops
If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you’ve made it easy for yourself to procrastinate. Remove distractions that are within easy access from around your workspace. For example, turn off email notifications and put your mobile phone away. You may also want to remove classic excuses that stop work. Like, needing to go to the kitchen for a glass of water. Eliminate this by having a bottle of water on hand at your desk. Now that you are underway, it’s always good to commit yourself to complete your work. Which is what tip 4 is all about.
Tell others about your goals
Tell all your friends, colleagues, family and even acquaintances about your work and deadlines. Whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about the status of your work. It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable to your own plans. You may want to take this even one step further and get some support with tip 5.
Seek out someone who has already achieved the outcome
Seeing living proof that your goals are very achievable if you take action, is one of the best triggers for action. Seek out people that have already achieved what you’re setting out to do. This could be people you know – friends, colleagues and it can also be strangers. You may even want to seek out a mentor if it’s a really significant task. Once this is all in place, there is only one more thing to check. Which brings me to the final tip.
Stop self-talk sabotage
Are you waiting for the perfect time to do a task? Or telling yourself that now might not be the best time because of blah, blah, blah. This kind of thinking is often associated with perfectionism and is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. So ditch those thoughts because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything. The best way to silence these thoughts is to get started on the task straight away and put your focus and brainpower into the task so you don’t have an opportunity for those thoughts to take hold. So that’s the six tips and to emphasize the point its not about eliminating procrastination… it’s about minimizing it for maximum performance.
“You don’t have to be perfect to get started. You just have to get started.” I’d love to hear from you! What tasks do you avoid? And what procrastination habits do you battle with?
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