Have you ever wondered why some things are so quick and easy to accomplish while others just feel insurmountable before you start, and so simple once they’re done? Delay tactics become very imaginative when we see that task on our list that we don’t want to do.
Rarely is the time you spend trying to avoid doing a particular task substituted with another high priority productive task. For example, you have to do follow-up phone calls with prospective clients. You’re not sure if they will say “yes” and so you delay making the calls so you don’t have to hear “no”. Instead of making those calls, and potentially adding some new clients who will pay you money, you rewrite your list of things to do, delete emails from your mobile phone, grab another cup of coffee, walk the dog, or daydream. You get the idea!
Why do you procrastinate?
Procrastination is an automatic habit that causes us to needlessly delay timely, relevant, priority activities to another day. The good news is that as a habit, it can be changed. The challenge is that procrastination is a reinforced habit, meaning we don’t always experience the unpleasant outcomes of our choices/actions. We often beat ourselves up because we delay action on a task or project. Inaction is not necessarily procrastination as long as what you are doing is as important as the task you are delaying.
Interestingly enough, procrastination is on the rise. Is this because our world is racing by and we just don’t have enough time to complete everything we want to do? Or, is this because we have too many distractions, between email, the internet, meetings, games and social media? Researchers at the University of Michigan suggest a change in society’s philosophy from one focused on hard work and prosperity to a more socially focused philosophy underpins this shift.
Brian Tracy, in his best seller “Eat That Frog” offers 21 habits that you can change to stop procrastinating. A strange title for sure until you read the book. Tracy explains, “…your frog is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on…the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.” Tracy also contends that if you are faced with two frogs, you should ‘eat’ the ugliest one first (the biggest, hardest and most important). You should tackle your major task first thing in the morning (without taking a lot of time to look at it) to reach high levels of performance and productivity.
Here are 3 key changes you can take today to move your projects forward.
- Prepare Before you Start
Planning and preparation are a key steps in getting more in less time and achieving better results. Planning helps you get clear on what it is you have to or want to achieve and the steps that need to be taken. Assemble all of the necessary tools and resources to do the job at hand quickly and efficiently. Create a good work environment for yourself, including the right lighting, a comfortable chair, and a tidy desktop. (This is my biggest challenge for sure but I keep working on it). A few minutes of preparation will help you tackle things more easily.
- Plan 3 Priorities Every Day.
At the end of each day, take the time to review your day and set the top three priorities for tomorrow. Setting your daily priorities will help your focus and will help reduce distraction until they are completed. This is one habit I learned early on when I was in Food Services. A disaster could occur at any time. When you set your priorities for the day in advance, you can deal with the unplanned and then quickly refocus on your priorities. This has saved me more often than I can count.
- Allocate Blocks of Time
Do you try to multitask? I used to multi-task all the time but found that details would fall through the cracks. Now, I block time to complete a task. This isn’t fool-proof but it definitely does improve efficiency. When you block time, you are able to focus and complete high quality work. Multi-tasking causes you to be more fragmented and this makes your task more difficult (easier to procrastinate on). Tracy states “one of the keys to high levels of performance and productivity is to make every minute count.” He adds “Pyramids were built one block at a time. A great life or career is built one task, and often one part of a task, at a time.
Procrastination is a habit. Like any habit you can learn new ways to overcome the process and change the outcome. Your change affirmation is….. Don’t Delay, Do it Today!
To your success, one task at a time!
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