Putting things off is one of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to be productive. But procrastination is one of the most common reasons people don’t accomplish as much at work as they would like to.
If you’re suffering from a procrastination habit, there are things you can do to get back on track and improve your productivity.
What’s the source of your procrastination?
The first thing you need to do is identify the problem. There are many reasons that you might find yourself in this predicament. It could be that you don’t enjoy your work, you have anxiety about communicating with a particular person, or that you feel overwhelmed by a big project.
Below you will find some of the most common causes of procrastination and some possible remedies.
Sometimes we just take on too much, we overstretch ourselves. Are you sure that it’s possible for you to meet all the obligations you currently have? If not, you may well have to accept the fact that you are going to have to reschedule some things and possible admit to others that you can’t do what you promised. It will cause short term pain but long term gain.
Suffering low motivation:
Are you really motivated to do this task? Is it something that is relevant to you personally or is it someone else’s objective rather than your own? If at all possible, identify a personal reward or relevance for achieving the task. What can you do to get yourself interested enough in the task to complete it to a good standard? If you really can’t get interested in the task, consider swapping with someone else or become comfortable with the idea of letting it go.
Lacking required skills:
Does your skillset need improving in order for you to be capable of completing the task? When you start a new task, how do you feel? Are you afraid of the unknown? Do you find the required outcomes to be unclear or ambiguous? If so, is there anyone who is more familiar with the process that can provide you with support and guidance.
Making poor estimations:
Are you guilty of thinking that the task will go away if you look the other way for long enough? Many procrastinators have a tendency to underestimate the time and effort needed to complete a task or on the other hand they convince themselves that the task will be more difficult than it actually is. If you suffer in this area sit down and write out all the steps that will be required to do the task, prioritize them and do one step at a time.
Are you the type of person that has to have all the I’s dotted and Ts crossed? Do you let the fears of being less than perfect get in the way of your productivity? You have to get used to the fact that the perfect outcome as in perfection, is usually an unrealistic expectation. Sometimes good is good enough, that’s not an excuse to produce shoddy work but often doing a task in a less than perfect way, is better than not doing it at all.
Fear of criticism:
Do you worry about how others may perceive your performance? Does it really matter? If you get criticized for the way you go about a task, in the overall scheme of things how much impact will it have on your life? There is no individual on earth who is able to perform at the top of their game all the time, keep things in perspective. Make it a goal that you will complete tasks to the best of your ability and in a way that ensures you don’t suffer stress and anxiety.
Dislike of task:
Sometimes we just have to do things that we consider are up there alongside a visit to the dentist or completing your annual tax return. Try to think of ways that you could make the task more pleasurable or enjoyable? If not try what Brian Tracey describes as eating the frog, get the unpleasant task out of the way first thing in the morning and that way you can feel good about yourself all day.
Understanding the reason for your procrastination can help you to get a handle on it. For example, if you have a big project that’s paralyzing you it can help to break it up into smaller pieces. When you can attack a little at a time, you won’t feel the need to put it off and you can build momentum.
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Till next time
Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor