We all do it. In order to put off that piece of work we can spend our day overdosing on coffee, posting nonsense on twitter, checking and re-checking our emails, chatting with the postman, walking busily with a piece of paper and eventually probably making more coffee. Of all the things we do at work, procrastination usually works because sub-consciously we are behind it 100%. However our work can suffer – and missed deadlines can put our livelihood at risk.
You have just got to know when you are doing it and understand why you are doing it. Once you know why you are spending your whole life tweeting you can start doing something about it (and still have time to tweet afterwards!)
1. Understand why you are procrastinating
There tend to be 6 real reasons we tend to put off doing a task:
- The task is too overwhelming
- You are afraid of getting it wrong
- Commencing the task will involve making a big decision
- It’s just an unpleasant task
- You have no motivation to complete the task (what’s the point?)
- The task should be done but will not be missed if it is not completed.
For each task you do during your working day, the reason for delaying it may be varied and you may need to combine a mix of the approaches below. This is all about creating new habits born out of a new mind-set.
2. Create real rewards
If you cannot see a point in completing a task then you need to remind yourself of why the task needs to be done. Look at the bigger picture. How will this affect the company’s overall goal or your workload? If you still cannot see a reward, create your own unique goals. This could be anything that is instant and makes you feel good.
3. Peer Pressure
Sometimes having a firm deadline from our clients or bosses can make strong boundaries and naturally help us with creating deadlines. This is not always available or relevant but it is often useful to ask peers to help out with putting a bit of pressure on when it is needed.
4. Your worst nightmare
Keep in mind what would happen if you failed to do your task properly or failed to get it in on time. You need to keep that scenario firmly at the front of your mind.
5. Calculate the cost of procrastination
It is not always apparent in a 7 hour day how much you are actually losing financially by procrastinating. Try doing a time management analysis. Be honest with yourself and determine how much time is wasted avoiding work which should create income or verify your role. Consider how that time can be used on positive money making tasks.
6. Start the day with a to do list
If you are a disorganised person, the tasks you need to do may not be immediately apparent. Start each day or week with a clear task list!
Prioritise that task list so you complete the most important tasks first – not the small easy tasks!
8. Set a time for each task
Clever procrastinators can manipulate their time so those tiddly little “nice-to-do tasks” can conveniently take all day and those monster big tasks never get done. Set a time for all your tasks to put things in perspective.
9. Break a task into small chunks if it seems overwhelming
Sometimes the size of task seems so big, it is just too overwhelming to start. Break the task down into smaller chunks with a reward at the end of each chunk.
10. If you are afraid of getting it wrong…
How many times have you sat looking at a blank piece of paper for hours on end because you can’t bring yourself to start that major report? Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter what you put down on that piece of paper – just type – you can always use that delete button. These actions will get your mind working and ideas flowing. In other words nothing works better than taking action – it is only then your true skills come to the surface and things will start to flow.
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