“I’ll get to later.” We’ve all said something like that from time to time. The problem is, the more we say it, the worse it makes us feel. But more than that, if you don’t get it under control, it will limit your success, curb your potential, be the cause of missed opportunities, stress and even feelings of guilt.
Simply stated, procrastination is putting off doing something until a later date. According to Edward Young, “procrastination is the thief of time.” Contrary to what you might think, procrastination is usually NOT related to time management.
So, what does procrastination sound like?
Perhaps you have heard others (or even yourself) say the following:
“I need to get organized before I tackle that project.”
“I need to wait until my prospect gets to work and has time to settle in before I call.”
“I’ll need to set aside a large block of time before I can start that project.”
People who procrastinate subconsciously look for distractions such as checking e-mail, doing paperwork, work on proposals or spend time on nonproductive activities. Reasons for Procrastination
Most of the literature about procrastination states that fear of failure is on the top of the list as the most likely cause of procrastination. Other reasons for procrastination include:
· The task seems hard or difficult to do
· It will take too long to complete
· Don’t know how to do it
· It’s got to be perfect
Strategies to Overcome Procrastination
Recognize that you have the freedom to choose to do what you want to do. While some tasks are more pleasant than others, the choice (and consequences) of doing them or not is yours. Here are some suggestions that have worked for others I've coached in overcoming procrastination.
1. Have realistic expectations of yourself and the task at hand
· Don't under or over estimate how much time a task will take. When in doubt, allow more time not less.
· Start by blocking out a specific amount of time that you will work on the task or project.
2. Don’t worry about “finishing it” right now. Focus on “starting it.”
3. Do the hard or difficult tasks first.
· Get them out of the way early. You'll feel great checking them off as completed.
4. Break it down into a series of smaller tasks or steps.
· It's a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard.
· By taking a step at a time, you'll be making progress.
· Track your progress. Each step you mark off as completed will give you a sense of satisfaction and the encouragement to continue.
· It’s OK to devote as little as 5 – 15 minutes at a time to the task or project
5. Reward yourself for putting in the incremental time.
· Even just a pat on the back is enough.
6. Delegate tasks wherever possible.
· Only do those tasks that only you can do, delegate the rest.
7. Ask a trusted friend or associate to help keep you on track by checking your progress.
· Being accountable to someone else goes a long way in helping to get things done.
8. Keep a balance to your life. Work, play, have fun.
· By only focusing on the problem, you make it worse.
9. Take the time to recharge
· Figure out what works best for you and just do it. It will help you to regain much needed perspective and renewed energy.
10. Embrace the self-suggestion, “Do it Now.”
Discard the attitude, "I'll get to it when I get to it." To make great strides with your procrastination problem you have to adopt a sense of urgency. This attitude is contagious. It spills over to both your staff and your clients. This can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line.
The more tasks that are put off to tomorrow, the less of a chance there is to complete them. I hope you will be able to apply some of these strategies to reduce or even eliminate your procrastination. Realize that procrastination is caused by some form of pain or unpleasantness that is associated with the task at hand. Turn that pain to pleasure by rewarding yourself for beginning the task. Celebrate your progress and forward motion.
As Lord Chesterfield said to his son;
“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”
Good luck on your journey to success.