You are not alone in procrastinating.
It’s a feeling of overconfidence, ‘I got this, this is going to be easy’ then the doubt starts to creep in. ‘I’m running out of time, what if it doesn’t go well.’ Then the anxiousness starts to appear. ‘What if I fail?’. I get worried and fearful. Those feelings bring on the flood of overwhelm and I start to feel out of control and smothered by the looming deadline. This is what happens when I procrastinate. What happens to you?
You may feel alone in procrastinating, like you’re the only one but you’re not. The University of Calgary did a study and found one in five people are chronic procrastinators. That number is probably higher when you remove the ‘chronic’ and add in the everyday.
Neil Fiore in his book The Now Habit suggests focusing on how you procrastinate not why you procrastinate. By noticing your behaviors, you can then make more conscious choices. We can talk about why we procrastinate until we’re blue in the face. When we can acknowledge our behavior and see the patterns of our behavior, we can begin to change. ‘You have to identify the cues and then choose a new routine’ Charles Duhigg writes in his book The Power of Habit.
Here are ways you can leverage your procrastination.
Noodle it-When my Father is faced with a task or big decision, this is his answer–‘Noodle it’. Think it through. Procrastination allows us to think through problems and tasks. We may not be taking an action on it but we are thinking it through consciously and unconsciously. Allow yourself the time to think through projects, ideas, and actions.
Delegate-Delegate your low priority tasks so you can work on the thing you’ve procrastinated on. You’ll know what they are when you look at what you have to manage. Take the time to pass it along to someone who can help you get your work done while you focus.
Get Focused-With a deadline hanging over you, you don’t have a choice but to manage interruptions and focus on the tasks at hand. Emails, texts, calls and other interruptions get put on the back burner as you work on getting it done.
Shell out the dough- A former coach of mine suggested this. You set a self-imposed deadline then you make a bet with someone. If you complete the task you don’t have to do a thing, if you miss the deadline you write a check. Not just any check, you’re sending money to an organization you actually oppose. What cause or organization makes your skin crawl, makes you queasy to think about never mind support. Imagine sending money to the cause if you don’t get the work done. It’s a great motivator.
Break it down-What is the next small action that you need to take to move this forward? It’s not build the website or write the blog, the next action is to turn on the computer. When we overwhelm ourselves with the outcome we often can’t determine what the next action is. Decide how you can break a project or task down.
Sandwich work- For high quality output you need high quality fun. In your schedule, block time for an activity you love, sandwich work in between and then follow that work with an activity that feels like a reward. Here’s an Example-Start the day by going for a run by the lake, work for an hour and a half and then schedule time for a coffee break with a friend. If you struggle with this technique, refer to the prior tips to keep you on track.
Just 5 minutes- Commit to doing five minutes of a task you are dreading and give yourself permission to move on after that. Here’s the outcome that a colleague discovered “Usually I get sucked in and either get further along than I anticipate or even complete it.”
Accountability-Another huge motivator. Have a friend, colleague or even better. a coach help guide you in the task. An important piece that you overlook is not to be missed by a friend or coach. They will help you to celebrate in the success of what you accomplish.
You may feel the anxiety of procrastination, the waiting game as the pressure builds. As the saying goes “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln. Use these techniques to gain some hustle and get things moving.
If you struggle with procrastination join me on October 26, 2016 from 6 to 7:30 pm at the Burton Barr Library for a free presentation: Procrastination; Gain Control of Your Workday. You can learn more techniques on how to stay productive and manage procrastination. Sign up https://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org/hive/calendar
Margo Crawford is a Productivity Expert and Certified Coach with Wave Productivity. She works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and business professionals to help them get more focused, organized and productive in their workplace. Through coaching over the phone or in person sessions, she can help if you struggle with procrastination and want to get more productive call 602-677-8275 or email [email protected]