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Motovational Tips For Procrastinators

Motovational Tips For Procrastinators

Procrastination is a problem for millions of people. Whether you are putting off doing some work that you do not enjoy or staring at that pile of laundry that just continues to grow, there are ways for you to break out of procrastination mode and into action. Here are some motivational tips for procrastinators that will set you on the path to productivity.

Make a List

It’s a simple idea, but making a list will help you increase your productivity. Famed speaker and personal development pioneer Zig Ziglar once said, “Goals enable you to do more for yourself and others, too.” When you think about it, that’s all a list is: the goals you want to accomplish in a given period of time. If you feel like you always make lists but never complete them, then try making a list of the simplest things you do every day. Have you taken your morning shower? Cross it off the list. Did you brush your teeth? Good. Check that one off, too. Seeing that you have completed even the smallest, most routine activities will give you a feeling of accomplishment and set you up for further success with more difficult tasks.

Don’t Allow Yourself to Put Off Daily Lists

Once you have mastered the art of making lists, the next challenge is regularly completing them. We all know that unexpected demands on our time tend to pop up at the worst possible moments. Staying current with your daily to-do list will help you be better prepared to handled such situations. If you suddenly find out at the last minute that your boss has requested a meeting with you that is expected to consume the entire last hour of the work day, you will be much less stressed if all of your daily reports have already been completed and filed. Walking into an end-of-day meeting with the manager is much easier to do when you know you don’t have to rush back to your desk and finish the rest of your work before you leave.

Devise a Realistic Plan

One reason that some procrastinators are not productive is that they tend to overwhelm themselves with ambitious plans that immediately set them up for failure.[1] Establishing a course of action is important when you are trying to get more done, but it is critical that you be honest with yourself about what you will be able to accomplish. You can definitely paint the family room, wash the car, do all the laundry, and make your daughter’s Halloween costume. You just can’t do all of that in one day. It is understandable that you might feel guilty for having let so many chores remain undone, but you will get more completed in the long run by giving yourself permission to take things one step at a time.

Make the Clock Your Friend

People tend to think that productivity only occurs when someone spends long hours on competing a chore, but small spurts of accomplishment can lead to great success. If you are struggling with procrastination, try setting a timer for a small amount of time such as 15 minutes. Spend that 15 minutes focusing on completing one task or even a few very small ones. Doing this will almost make being productive fun. It’s like a game for yourself. After you have completed one of these 15-minute sprints, you very likely will want to challenge yourself to see if you can do more the next time. You may even try reducing the amount of time to really see what you can do. Not only does this help you be more productive overall, it can give you that same sense of accomplishment you felt when showered and brushed your teeth earlier.

Figure Out Why You Tend to Procrastinate

It is easy to say that procrastination stems from pure laziness. While that may be true for some people, it is not uncommon for a lack of productivity to be a symptom of a much deeper issue. What if I try to accomplish a goal but don’t quite make it? What will everyone think? How will I pick up the pieces and try again after such a setback? These are all questions that people tend to ask when they are talking themselves out of doing something. Some believe that this fear of failure is rooted in the ancient parts of our brain. The instinct that kept our prehistoric ancestors from taking dangerous risks and therefore kept them alive is the same one than tends to hold us back from trying things that may not work. If you are saddled with a fear of failure, it is critical that you recognize it, acknowledge it, and take steps to defeat it. As pioneering businessman, Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”[2]

The reasons that people procrastinate are varied, and there is surely no shortage of things to avoid doing. But there are ways to combat procrastination and move forward. If you find yourself lacking motivation or simply do not know where to start, try some of these tips and remember to congratulate yourself for all of your accomplishments.

Featured photo credit: Sander Smeekes via unsplash.com

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Published on July 29, 2020

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

How to Build Strategic Thinking Skills for Effective Leadership

Have you been thinking of how you can be a more strategic leader during these uncertain times? Has the pandemic thrown a wrench at all your carefully laid out plans and initiatives?

You’re not alone. The truth is, we all want some stability in our careers and teams during this disruptive pandemic.

However, this now requires a bit more effort than before and making the leap from merely surviving to thriving means buckling down to some serious strategic thinking and maintaining a determined mindset.

Is There a Way to Thrive Despite These Disruptions?

Essentially – yes, although you need to be willing to put in the work. Every leader wants to develop strategic thinking skills so that they can enhance overall team performance and boost their company’s success, but what exactly does it mean to be strategic in the context of the times we live in?

If you happen to be in a leadership position in your organization right now, you are most probably navigating precarious waters given the disruptions caused by the pandemic. There’s a lot more pressure than before because your actions and decisions will have a much greater impact these days not just on you, but also to the people who are part of your team.

Companies often bring me in to coach executives on strategic thinking and planning. And while pre-pandemic I would usually start by highlighting the advantages of strategic thinking, nowadays, I always begin these Zoom coaching sessions by driving home the point that this pandemic has now made strategic thinking not just an option but an absolute must.

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Assessing and making plans through the lens of a good strategy might require significant work at first. Nevertheless, you can take comfort in the fact that the rewards will far outweigh the effort, as you’ll soon see after following the 8 strategic steps I have outlined below.

8 Steps to Strategic Thinking

As events unfold during these strange times, you’re bound to feel wrong-footed every now and then. Being a leader during this pandemic means preparing for more change not just for you, but for your whole team as well.

As states and cities go through a cycle of lockdowns and reopening, employees will experience the full gamut of human emotions in dizzying speed, and you will often be called on to provide insight and stability to your team and workplace.

Strategic thinking is all about anticipation and preparation. Rather than expending your energy merely helping your company put out fires and survive, you can put the time to better use by charting out a solid plan that can protect and help you and your company thrive.

Take the following steps to build solid initiatives and roll out successful projects:

Step 1: Step Back, Then Set the Scope

One of the things that leaders get wrong during their first attempt at strategic thinking is expecting that it is just another item on a checklist. The truth is, you need to take a good, long look at the bigger picture before anything else. This means decisively prioritizing and stepping away from tasks that can be delegated to others. Free up your schedule so you can focus on this crucial task at hand.

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Then, proceed with setting the scope and the strategic goals of the project or initiative you plan to build or execute. Ask yourself the bigger question of why you need to embark on a particular project and when would be the right time to do so.

You need to set a timeline as well, anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. Keep in mind that your projections will deteriorate the further out you go as you make longer-term plans.

For this reason, add extra resources, flexibility, and resilience if you have a longer timeline. You should also be making the goals less specific if you’re charting it out for the longer term.

Step 2: Make a List of Experts

Make and keep a list of credible people who can contribute solid insight and feedback to your initiative. This could range from key stakeholders to industry experts, mentors, and even colleagues who previously planned and rolled out similar projects.

Reach out to the people on this list regularly while you work through the steps to bring diverse insight into your planning process. This way, you will be able to approach any problem from every angle.

Bringing key stakeholders into this initial process will also display your willingness to listen and empathize with their issues. In return, this will build trust and potentially pave the way for smoother buy-in down the line.

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Step 3: Anticipate the Future

After identifying your goals and gathering feedback, it’s time to consider what the future would look like if everything goes as you intuitively anticipate. Then, lay out the kind and amount of resources (money, time, social capital) that might be needed to keep this anticipated future running.

Step 4: Brainstorm on Potential Internal and External Problems

Next, think of how the future would look if you encountered unexpected problems internal and external to the business activity that seriously jeopardize your expected vision of the future. Write out what kind of potential problems you might encounter, including low-probability ones.

Assess the likelihood that you will run into each problem. To gauge, multiply the likelihood by the number of resources needed to address the problem. Try to convert the resources into money if possible so that you can have a single unit of measurement.

Then, think of what steps you can take to address these internal and external problems before they even happen. Write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Lastly, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different possible problems and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

Step 5: Identify Potential Opportunities, Internal and External

Imagine how your expected plan would look if unexpected opportunities came up. Most of these will be external but consider internal ones as well. Then, gauge the likelihood of each scenario and the number of resources you would need to take advantage of each opportunity. Convert the resources into money if possible.

Then, think of what steps you can take in advance to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and write out how much you expect these steps might cost. Finally, add up all the extra resources that may be needed because of the different unexpected opportunities and all the steps you committed to taking to address them in advance.

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Step 6: Check for Cognitive Biases

Check for potential cognitive biases that are relevant to you personally or to the organization as a whole, and adjust the resources and plans to address such errors.[1] Make sure to at least check for loss aversion, status quo bias, confirmation bias, attentional bias, overconfidence, optimism bias, pessimism bias, and halo and horns effects.

Step 7: Account for Unknown Unknowns (Black Swans)

To have a more effective strategy, account for black swans as well. These are unknown unknowns -unpredictable events that have potentially severe consequences.

To account for these black swans, add 40 percent to the resources you anticipate. Also, consider ways to make your plans more flexible and secure than you intuitively feel is needed.

Step 8: Communicate and Take the Next Steps

Communicate the plan to your stakeholders, and give them a heads up about the additional resources needed. Then, take the next steps to address the unanticipated problems and take advantage of the opportunities you identified by improving your plans, as well as allocating and reserving resources.

Finally, take note that there will be cases when you’ll need to go back and forth these steps to make improvements, (a fix here, an improvement there) so be comfortable with revisiting your strategy and reaching out to your list of experts.

Conclusion

A great way to deal with feelings of uncertainty during this pandemic is to anticipate obstacles with a good plan – and a sure road to that is practicing strategic thinking.

In the coming months and years, you’ll need to continue navigating uncharted territory so that you can lead your team to safe waters. Regularly doing these 8 steps to strategic thinking will ensure that you can prepare for and adapt  to the coming changes with increasing clarity, perspective, and efficiency.[2]

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