We have all procrastinated at some point or other. Whether it’s fixing a leaky tap or trying every distraction tactic in the book to start writing that novel (no pun intended), procrastination effects even the most efficient ‘doers’ among us.
We can procrastinate because we’re putting off things that we should be focusing on right now, something that may be not be so enjoyable or falls outside our comfort or confident zone. A psychologist quoted procrastination as occurring when there’s “a temporal gap between intended behaviour and enacted behaviour.” In other words, when there’s a significant period of time period between when people intend to do a job, and when they actually do it.
Here’s a few tips on helping to overcome this bugbear:
- Be Aware That You’re Procrastinating: Don’t believe in waiting for the ‘right mood’ or the ‘right time’ to tackle the important task at hand, because it doesn’t often come. Get rid of that same to-do item that’s been carried over from your old list. Just because it’s been on your radar for weeks is almost as bad as forgetting about it.
- Figure out WHY You’re Procrastinating: it could be that you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task at hand or just don’t like the thought of doing the job at all. Let’s face it, some jobs have some form of boring element to them so it’s best to get it and over and done with. Usually it’s a case of the job itself, when tackled, isn’t that big a deal as the actual thinking about doing it. After all, it’s easy to overestimate it’s unpleasantness when it’s been swimming around your mind for a while. And if your disorganisation is causing you to procrastinate, maybe it’s time to start that to-do list!
- Adopt an Anti-Procrastination Mindset: Procrastination is nothing more than a habit; it’s something we can change, just not necessarily overnight. This is where a bit of persistence is key. So, be good to yourself: reward yourself when you’ve completed a certain task. Also consider the consequences of not doing the task. For every minute you procrastinate you’re losing time. If it’s during work hours, someone is paying you to waste their time – for an agency like mine, as all our work output is recorded in a timesheet, this helps discourage procrastination and is always a very effective reminder if one was needed! If you are dealing with a mammoth task, then break it down into bite-size chunks. Managing – and completing – one element at a time will make the task as a whole seem less daunting.
So, the next time you’re squirming in your seat trying to come up with your twelfth excuse to avoid making that call to a particularly demanding person, in the words of a certain sports brand, just do it!