“The best way to get something done is to begin.”
I cannot think how many times I have been reminded to get things done before they grow in size in my mind! Can you relate to this? I am a very self-motivated person and I achieve a lot each week but there are tasks (both at home and at work) that I push aside to a later time. As I have been working with other professionals and business owners I have realized this is not a unique trait. Even those people I thought were super efficient have times when they 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 indicate that society has adopted more of a social philosophy in contrast to the hard work and prosperity attitude previously prevalent.
Brian Tracy, in his best seller “Eat That Frog“ offers 21 habits that you can change to stop procrastinating. The title of this book was intriguing to me and I could not understand how it related to putting off to tomorrow what you could do today. As 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
I am sure you have heard this before but preparation is a key step in achieving more in less time and ultimately being successful. Get clear on what it is you have or want to achieve and the steps that need to be taken. Too often we don’t assemble all of the necessary tools and resources to do the job at hand quickly and efficiently. Another part of preparing is creating a good work environment. This can entail having the right lighting, a comfortable chair, and a tidy desktop. (This is my biggest challenge for sure but I keep working on it).
- 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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Catherine Rocheleau is a Leadership & Change Strategist and the Founder & CEO of Ignite Leadership International. We empower professionals and business owners to engage others and achieve sustainable results through leadership development and change strategies. Our clients embrace, navigate and lead their own changes, balance ‘head and heart’ and create systems to create a more rewarding business and personal life.
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