Stop Procrastinating, Start Doing
One of the biggest ways people find to waste time is to spend their time and energy avoiding things they ‘should’ be doing.
For various reasons they will put off certain tasks or find they’re really resisting doing one thing while finding time for something that’s far less important.
You might find you’ve been busy all day but what have you actually achieved and how much of ‘being busy’ is actually useful or productive? How many important tasks have you managed to avoid by busily working on your email, filing, tidying your desk or some other low priority task?
If you leave a task long enough it gets to the point where it can no longer be ignored and demands your attention. Now you have to get it done and somehow you manage to find the time or inclination for it. Whereas a few days/weeks/months ago you didn’t.
Procrastination has consequences financially (fines, late/missed payment), physically (health and fitness) and emotionally (stress, overwhelm).
Understanding why you procrastinate will help you to do something about it. Consider the following:
• What are you avoiding or resisting?
• What is the benefit of procrastinating, what do you gain?
• What is the impact – short-term and long-term?
When the benefit of not doing something becomes greater than the benefit of doing it, your resistance will quickly disappear. The more you resist the harder it becomes and the worse it becomes in your mind. More often than not once we get round to it, we find that it wasn’t so bad as we thought after all.
Here are a few ways to prevent procrastination.
Break It Down. Break large tasks down into smaller tasks, so it doesn’t seem quite so onerous. What’s the first step you need to take to get started? For instance, if you need to write a report there may be other things you need to do first – make a phone call, send an email, gather information, research … what’s the very first thing you need to do? Do that. Once you get started you’ll build momentum and it will be easier to keep going or move on to the next step.
Quick Bites. The easiest way I have found to tackle many things is by spending just 5 or 10 minutes on a task. For instance – when writing a report – take five minutes just to get a few ideas on paper. Next time – add a bit more, refine it, add a bit more content. Schedule time to come back to it later either in a few hours or the next day or later in the week and complete a little more working in short bursts. You’ll increase your productivity when you give yourself a time limit and it’s less daunting than needing to spend an hour or more on a task and less excuse to procrastinate. Apply this strategy to paperwork, filing, emails.
Just do it! Putting something off like a phone call or an email? Instead of saying to yourself, ‘ I’ll do it in a minute, or I’ll do it later … JUST DO IT! Don’t delay any longer, get it out of the way and then you can move on and stop worrying. Catch yourself putting something off again? Just do it.
Good Procrastination. Sometimes we put things off because something doesn’t ‘feel right’. How many times have you had a decision to make or something needs doing and by delaying, the apparent need or urgency disappears? This isn’t an excuse to procrastinate, just an indication to look at where the resistance is coming from and why. Often it’s because we don’t have enough information to make a decision or complete the task. Leaving it until a later date might be the right thing to do.
If a task is worthy of your attention in the first place, take action sooner rather than later – do it! If it’s not, then just let it go and stop worrying about it.