Procrastination comes from the Latin word meaning “to put off till tomorrow.” To procrastinate is to avoid or to replace high priority tasks with low priority tasks. The project might seem boring, or insurmountable. We’ve all heard people saying “I’ll start my diet tomorrow,” and “I’ll start exercising next month.”
The same principles of procrastination might rear its ugly head in your work environment. We know that leaving tasks until the very last minute could lead to disaster, yet somehow it seems more important to update our Facebook status, add more contacts on LinkedIn, or color code your stationary drawer.
Either way, I’ve compiled a list of 5 sure fire ways to eliminate procrastination from your day to day schedule.
Don’t Put Off What Can Be Done Now
In other words, don’t wait for the right time. There is no better time to start, than right now. I believe in setting timers. Set aside a 30 minute period, and just focus on the hard part: Starting. Once you’ve started, work uninterrupted for the remainder of your allocated time.
Do the Hard Stuff First
By doing this, you will finish the hardest part of your project first, making the other (smaller) tasks seem effortless. Another useful tip is to tackle the bulk of the task when you are alert, or during your “power hours.” If you are a morning person, start with your biggest task first thing in the AM, instead of checking your mail and messages.
Break It Down into Smaller Chunks
To quote Martin Luther King: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” You are far less likely to procrastinate when you break your task down into smaller, bite-sized chunks. You could even assign segments of 10 or 30 minutes to each smaller sub-task. By doing this, your mountain of a task seems manageable.
Set Strict Deadlines for Yourself
The popular belief is that deadlines are stressful and demanding; something to be feared. By viewing deadlines from a different perspective, you will realize that they are the perfect tool in the war against procrastination. Without the urgency of having a deadline, you will lose focus, and yes, give in to procrastination.
There are many ways to stay motivated. You could reward yourself for tasks completed, but only after you have completed a set amount of subtasks. Go out, go for a walk, take a nap or watch TV; anything that is rewarding to you. However, rewarding yourself before you reach your goals will only lead to more procrastination. Be strict about it.
Another way to stay motivated is to find an accountability partner; a friend or colleague to help you keep track. Explain your goals related to the task and deadlines to your partner, and give regular feedback on your progress.
Once you understand the mental barriers that trigger procrastination, it will gradually become easier to overcome it. These triggers could range from superficial distractions to fear of failure. Understanding them can be useful in eliminating procrastination in the long run.
by Cheryl-Anne Roelofsz