The word ‘procrastination’ comes from the Latin - ‘pro’ meaning ‘towards’ and ‘cras’ meaning ‘tomorrow’, but sadly I don’t think ‘tination’ means ‘to put off!’
Actually, I don’t want to trivialise this – people suffer from it. Procrastination can make people unhappy and can even become a hazard to personal health and productivity.
It is something we can all suffer from at various stages of our working (and personal) lives. Over the years, I have gathered together the following solutions based on the training courses we deliver . Just as I said in my previous blog not every solution will work for everyone, but there is bound to be something here that will help you.
1. Decide that the task will not get done…ever…and ditch / delete it
The sense of relief is palpable.
2. Delegate the task to someone else
I don’t mean dump this on some unsuspecting victim, but use it as a genuine development opportunity and delegate professionally.
3. Decide when the task will get done and make an Outlook appointment for it. Schedule reminders (also schedule things you might need to do in advance of main task)
Outlook can be a great tool to protect a chunk of time. It’s very assertive and just says ‘no, this conflicts’. Of course having got the free time, the deal is you do the task.
4. Put the task to one side and ditch it when you judge safe to do so
This is similar to number one above, just be a bit more cautious.
5. Focus on the benefits of doing the task
This one works for me. Focussing on the sense of relief or satisfaction on a job well done, or simply knowing that now other people can move on with what they need to do.
6. Break the task down into smaller units
Perhaps gathering data, creating a template, doing the presentation etc. can make the task a lot less daunting.
7. Gather all relevant data so you get off to a good start
This works for me with my tax return. I do this and suddenly the task is 50% completed.
8. Do one unpleasant thing every day/week
This depends a bit on how many unpleasant things you have to do, but can be a good way to break them up.
9. Do it first thing to get it out of the way
Even before making that coffee.
10. Set false deadlines (tell someone else when it will be done)
Somehow it is harder to let someone else down.
11. Leave the file open on your desk ready for the next day
I once worked with someone who did this and wouldn’t take her coat off until the task was done. This is a bit tricky in a clear desk policy environment, but you could find a way.
12. Give yourself a reward on completion of the task
This is my favourite. I promised myself a new golf club (the stick rather than a 100 acres of land) when I had completed this blog!
13. Go to a different (special) environment for that (special) task
A quiet place where you won't be interrupted.
14. Switch off distractions/interruptions - phone, mail alert, social media, people
Oh yes you can!
15. Work with a role model, imagine x was waiting for that job to be done
You know, if our CEO was waiting, I’d probably get this done.
16. Don’t be a perfectionist
Of course, you’ll do it well, really well but…
17. Take a baby step
I used to work with someone doing really complex bids and the first thing he did was to write the covering letter – he was underway!
18. Reflect on the great feeling you’ll get when you’ve finished.
This one had to be last; it really will be a great feeling – anticipate that great feeling.
It may be that you could build some of these points into a personal development plan as part of your Time Management skills. Sometimes having things you struggle with as part of a plan can be extremely beneficial and can make you more motivated to deliver.
Good luck and I hope you’ll follow our series of articles on leadership and personal development!
Contact us to discuss the how we can help you and your team achieve even more.
Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.
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