Are you a procrastinator?
Procrastination is when you put things off, or avoid them all together, in favour of doing something else. This may be something easier, more enjoyable or that you are more comfortable with doing. Fortunately, if you are a procrastinator, it can be overcome with a few simple (not necessarily easy) steps.
You know if you are a procrastinator, now you need to own it. You are a procrastinator if you
- Are always ticking low priority items off your to-do list
- Consistently transfer tasks from one day’s to-do list to the next
- Say “yes” to others thereby putting off your own important task
- Read and reread emails trying to decide what to do with them
- Find yourself saying things like “I’ll just have one more cup of coffee, then I will get to it”
It is important that you acknowledge what is holding you back in order to decide on the best strategy. For example, if you simply find the task unpleasant, you might give it a try, it may not be so bad after all.
General disorganization causes procrastination because disorganized people fail to use tools such as prioritized to-do lists or scheduling and time-blocking. This results in things regularly falling through the cracks. Some solutions are
- Creating a prioritized to-do list,
- Learning how to schedule and time block,
- Setting “SMART” goals so they are time-bound,
- Avoiding “multi-tasking” and focusing on one task at a time
Often the consequence of not believing you have the skills or resources to complete the task is experiencing overwhelm. As a result, you focus on smaller, less important items that you know you can accomplish. Fear of failure or of stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the biggest causes of procrastination. Unfortunately, truly important tasks rarely go away. This can increase stress levels and decrease competence as you give in to your mind chatter.
Create an Action Plan to manage your tasks. Start with small, quick tasks at first so you get a taste of what it feels like to accomplish things. Perhaps the bigger project won’t be so bad after all.
Sometimes people decide that if they don’t have adequate skills, time or resources to do the job perfectly, they are better off not doing it at all. Practice the theory of “Ready, Fire, Aim” and simply take action.
If you can’t decide what to do first, or at all, you are likely to postpone taking action for fear of making the wrong decision. Make a point to learn and implement some decision-making strategies.
Implement Strategies to Overcome Procrastination
- Set a goal to complete one task every day that you would previously have put off doing.
- Every time you complete a task you are inclined to put off, reward yourself with something.
- For example, give yourself a treat, a coffee break, or a walk around the block. Acknowledge how good it feels to finish things.
- Ask someone to check in with you at regular, predetermined intervals to ensure you are on task. Peer pressure works.
- What will happen if you don’t do the task? Who or what will suffer? Will this negatively impact co-workers or clients, your family or a close friend? Who is counting on you to get it done?
- Determine the cost in dollars.If you are employed, putting off completing tasks that your employer is paying you to complete is almost like stealing from the company you work for. If you are self-employed, what is the cost of failing to deliver on your business goals?
In summary, procrastination is a time and money thief. It causes overwhelm and stress. It impacts others as they attempt to complete their tasks. A little bit of effort on your part will help you overcome procrastination. Start today. If you want some help, click here to download our book, “A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your time and Increasing Productivity”.