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Thursday, 1 March 2012

Today is the New Tomorrow -

How to Overcome Procrastination

Probably the biggest cause of low productivity and one of the hardest habits to break - procrastination. The thing about procrastination is that it creeps up on you. You don't really notice all the time that you're doing; it depends on how you procrastinate. You will find ways to procrastinate that will give you the impression that you are super busy but you still don't get anything done, anything of importance that is. All the unimportant things, all the trivial matters, they are all getting major attention. Tasks that you could delegate or even eliminate all get done, almost religiously. But the most important tasks, the ones that you would assign a priority A1, the must-get-this-done-or-the-business-will-fail tasks, those are the ones that we most often procrastinate upon. Why? The reasons are manifold. I have researched this particular topic extensively and have discovered lots of reasons why people procrastinate. It's not only for obvious reasons.

The number one excuse for procrastination is time. "I simply haven't got the time to do this right now" is the most common response for why people put things off. This can be true, of course. Chances are that you really don't have a whole weekend at your disposal to clear out your garage or the 5 hours it would take to write the whole report. But: and this is really a But with a capital B, nobody is asking you to do that. The major secret to getting large projects done is to break them down into smaller, manageable chunks and work on them one at a time. Make the chunks really bite size so that you don't have the excuse that they take too long, then schedule them into your planner. Each task shouldn't be longer than 30 to 60 minutes which is a period of time that anyone can find in their diary.

If after doing that you still find yourself procrastinating and coming up with excuses such as (still) lack of time or that you have more important things to do such as filing or alphabetising the contents of your fridge, then there are other, deeper seated hurdles at play. These can be grouped into two categories. Reasons that have to do with the project itself and reasons that are down to your personality. Have a look at the table below whether you can identify with any of these reasons and also what are some solutions to get over them.

Project Related Reasons for Procrastination
Project is out of your expertise and/or you don't know where to start.
Consult an expert; find someone who has done this sort of thing before and ask for help. Nobody can be expected to know everything. Option 2 - find a how-to book on the subject.

Project is boring.
Consider delegating to someone who enjoys this kind of work. If that's not an option, challenge yourself. How fast can you finish each part of the project? Set yourself a deadline and see if you can beat it by x amount. The adrenaline rush will help to get you moving.

Project is threatening.
If you are worried that you'll get in trouble if you get this wrong then you are likely to delay the whole thing. Consider: what is the worst thing that could happen if you get this wrong and how likely is it going to happen?
Also, what exactly do you need to get it right? Have you got all available tools and information? If yes, you're already half way there, so make a start. If no, consider getting help or even delegating to someone with all the tools available to them.

Personality Traits That Increase Procrastination
Conditions are never perfect and if you wait for perfection you will never get started. Refocus to what is the minimum you need to get started, then go. You can always adjust along the way.

Lack of Self Confidence
Break the project down into bite size tasks and put them in the order they need to be completed in. Concentrate on one task at a time. Reward yourself once each step is achieved.

Thriving on Adrenaline
If you only ever get things done in the last minute or just beyond because you "work better under pressure" why not set yourself tight deadlines throughout. Break the project into smaller chunks, and make sure that you can only just achieve your deadlines. This way, the adrenaline will keep flowing AND the project will keep moving along.

If you want to know more about the subject of overcoming procrastination, please refer to my 3-part article entitled "How to Stop Putting it Off - Say Goodbye to Procrastination For Good". It is published on Ezine Articles on the web and you can access it by clicking the links below.
There you will find even more ways to let go of that procrastination habit.
And if you want to be up close and personal, I am holding a networking seminar on this topic on the 13th March 2012 in Nottingham. Please visit for details.

Isi Dixon
Consultant, Motivational Speaker & Author
Well Organised
Professional Organising & Productivity Specialists
Tel: 07732 915456

Author of Get Twice As Much Done In Half The Time – 10 Productivity Strategies for Your Office
Available on my website (with a special bonus edition of Printable Forms, Templates & Worksheets)

1 comment :

Carole said...

Interesting post. For some light relief here is a funny about procrastination

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