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Pro-Active Steps to Prevent Procrastination

Pro-Active Steps to Prevent Procrastination

One of the biggest obstacles to completing all the tasks required during any day is procrastination – in other words, avoidance of any task that doesn’t appeal by doing other non-essential tasks instead. Most of us don’t even realize when we are procrastinating but a failure to regularly complete what should be an average amount of work during the day is an indication that procrastination is at work somewhere in our day. Once we are aware that this is a possibility, it’s usually quite easy to identify the tasks which are being avoided, and the “time fillers” being used to legitimately fill the time so that we are unable to do the things we want to ignore. Unfortunately, ignoring them doesn’t make them disappear; it just makes them become more of a priority the next day.

There are several key issues which make us avoid certain jobs and by identifying the tasks that we really avoid, and the ways in which we can make them more enjoyable, we can start to take control of the procrastination issue so that we can benefit from the success in completing what we need to accomplish each day. Some of these issues, with possible solutions, are as follows:


Time Taking Projects

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Issue:
These are projects which take up one line in our daily work schedule but which we know are going to take at least half a day or more to complete, and so instead of doing them we use the time to do five or six other less important tasks and feel we have done more! Of course, the project doesn’t go away, it just sits there until it becomes urgent and increases our stress level as it has to be done so quickly!

Solution:
Instead of giving the task only one line in the “to do” list, itemize each part of the project so that instead of one task, it becomes a series of tasks. It will take the same length of time, but at least it feels as if we have done something with our day.

Tasks We Hate

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Issue:
These are the projects which for some reason or other we just hate to do. They can be complex tasks such as comparative analysis, or simple ones such as filing the daily sales reports. Whatever they are, we put them off as long as possible for no other reason than we just don’t like doing them.

Solution:
Put jobs that are disliked at the top of the “to do” list so that they are over and done with in the first part of the morning, and the rest of the day can be spent doing more pleasant tasks.

Needing Perfection/Fear of Failure

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Issue:
These tasks are the ones where we want to make a good impression, or there is something crucial resting on how well we do our job. We avoid doing them because we fear that our work won’t be good enough and we will fail in some way.

Solution:
Think about what the worst thing that could happen would be if the project wasn’t perfect, but instead was a good as we can possibly make it. Then allocate a set amount of time each day to work on the project, allowing plenty of time to edit/review before the deadline. Realizing that it’s possible to perfect something to the point at which it starts to lose the original focus is another way of knowing when to let go of a project instead of keeping it on the list for yet another day instead of finishing it and sending it to the outbox.

One of the best ways of overcoming procrastination however is effective time management. This means identifying which scheduling tools work best for us, and making sure that we clearly identify and prioritize each task that we need to do each day. Keeping the above solutions in mind, we need to organize each working day so that our procrastination issues are dealt with and we end each day knowing that tomorrow is a day when we start a new set of tasks without having to deal with the ones we didn’t want to do today!

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Katie-Anne Gustafsson spent many years in business administration before becoming a WAHM where she learned many of the organisational skills and tools she needs to effectively balance the demands for her daily life.

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Leon Ho

Founder of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them

Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes & How To Tackle Them

Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

So what changed?

I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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How to Tackle It?

Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

How to Tackle It?

Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

How to Tackle It?

Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

How to Tackle It?

It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

How to Tackle It?

Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

Bottom Line

I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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