Overcoming procrastination is easier than you think. Further down in this article I will give you some proactive strategies to help you tackle it head on.
Many of us have those tasks that we just seem to sit on and don’t want to start. You keep putting it off and off, doing absolutely anything but that which you should be doing. From reading the industry-specific journal that has been sat on your desk for the last month or casually surfing the web, checking the latest news or sports updates.
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As a result of this ‘putting-off’ time passes by and you begin to feel more and more guilty and anxious. The anxious feeling also makes you less likely to do anything else that is productive either which further increases the problem. All this can interfere with your overall job performance and your health too as your stress levels start to increase.
Do You Really Have a Problem?
Do you find that even after all of this wasting time at the last possible minute you still end up getting the task done? If so then you might not have a procrastination problem at all, in fact you are probably just an excellent judge of how long a task takes you to complete. If this is you then you need to try and drop the anxiety and guilty feeling. You know you’re going to get the job done so enjoy the time leading up to you starting.
However if you’re putting things off for too long and as a result you are missing deadlines or producing low quality output then you need to take some action.
Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination
If you’re pretty sure that you do have a problem then there are a number of strategies that you can adopt that may help you to overcome your procrastination…
The drill down approach is where you drill down a task to its most detailed level. For example suppose you need to create a PowerPoint presentation on your teams’ recent achievements. If you have these achievements at hand then step one might simply be to open PowerPoint. If that’s the case then do it now. The simple action of doing the most basic, detailed level task you can think of is often all that is required to trigger a chain of actions that move you closer to completing your goal.
If you’ve opened PowerPoint and are still not flowing then write down the next most detailed level task that you can think of, which might be “Insert a title page”. These simple, low-level tasks are very easy to complete and each one gently moves you closer to where you need to be.
Often just the simple action of writing what you need to do down on paper can get you moving in the right direction.
Assess Your Emotions
Often procrastination can be as a result of your emotions and feelings towards a particular task. Understanding and coming to terms with exactly how you feel about a task can provide you with an ability to kick start yourself into action. Perhaps it’s a task that you don’t agree with or see as a complete waste of your time (anger). Perhaps it’s a task that is new and difficult to understand. Something that is beyond what you believe you are capable of doing (fear).
Once you’ve assessed which emotions are hindering your ability to get started you can start to work out how you can deal with them. You may be able to get rid of anger by simply punching the air, shouting or going for a walk to calm yourself down. For fear then perhaps you can ask someone for advice, read a book or surf the web in order to gain more understanding. If it’s a larger training requirement then perhaps you can approach your manager and explain your concerns and make a request for training.
A great way to get something done is to have a detailed plan. If you have access to project planning software use it and create a detailed, realistic plan. If you don’t then you can consider downloading one of the free packages such as openproj or alternatively create your plan in Excel or use a pen and paper. Good planning facilitates success.
As you’re planning try and consider anything that might get in your way. Make sure that you are fully prepared with how you’re going to overcome these obstacles.
People who procrastinate are easily distracted. If you fall in this category then try and remove the distractions. Start by clearing your desk – hide away everything that has no use in terms of the task at hand. Next turn off your email client and mobile device. Consider all other things that have been known to distract you before, is there anything you can do to make them less likely to be a distraction?
Write down how you intend to reward yourself once the task is complete. Also, give yourself mini rewards as you achieve major chunks or milestones of the task or project. This can be as simple as having a coffee break or a piece of a chocolate bar.
Ok now you’ve read overcoming procrastination so it’s now time to get started. Assess your emotions, write down some next actions, plan how you intend to reward yourself and get started. Good luck!
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