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
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.