- Filling your day with low priority tasks from your To Do List.
- Reading e-mails several times without starting work on them or deciding what you’re going to do with them.
- Sitting down to start a high-priority task, and almost immediately going off to make a cup of coffee or do something else.
- Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time, even though you know it’s important.
- Regularly saying “Yes” to unimportant tasks that others ask you to do, and filling your time with these instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
- Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Don’t Put it Off
If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. In fact, many people procrastinate to some degree – but some are so chronically affected by procrastination that it stops them fulfilling their potential & disrupts their careers.
The key to controlling this habit is to recognize when you start procrastinating, understand why it happens and take active steps to manage your time and outcomes better.
What is Procrastination? In a nutshell, you procrastinate when you put off things that you should be focusing on right now, usually in favor of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.
How to Overcome Procrastination
Step 1: Recognize That You Are Procrastinating – If you’re honest with yourself, you probably know when you’re procrastinating. Here are some useful indicators that will help you know when you’re procrastinating:
Step 2: Work Out WHY You’re Procrastinating
Why you procrastinate can depend on both you and the task. But it’s important to understand which of the two is relevant in a given situation, so that you can select the best approach for overcoming your reluctance to get going.
One reason for procrastination is that people find a particular job unpleasant, and try to avoid it because of that. In reality, the best way of dealing with these is to get them over and done with quickly, so that you can focus on the more enjoyable aspects of the job.
Another reason might be disorganization. Organized people tend to procrastinate much less, because they will have things like prioritized to-do lists & schedules which emphasize how important the work is, and their due dates. They will also plan how long a task will take to do and when they need to get started in order to avoid it being late. Organized people also know how to break the work down into manageable “next steps”.
Even if you’re organized, you can feel overwhelmed by the task. You may doubt that you have the skills or resources you think you need, so you seek comfort in doing tasks you know you’re capable of completing. You may also fear success as much as failure. For example, you may think that success will lead to you being swamped with more requests to do this type of task, or that you’ll be pushed to take on things that you feel are beyond you.
Perfectionists are sometimes guilty of procrastinating. They might think “I don’t have the right skills or resources to do this perfectly now, so I won’t do it at all.”
One final major cause of procrastination is not being able to decide what to do, so you’re likely to put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing.
Step 3: Adopt Anti-Procrastination Strategies
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. That means that you won’t just break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you have persistently stopped practicing them, so use as many approaches as possible to maximize your chances of beating procrastination. Some tips will work better for some people than for others, and for some tasks than others. And, sometimes, you may simply need to try a fresh approach to beat the “procrastination peril”!