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Are You Making One of These 7 Procrastination Errors?

Are You Making One of These 7 Procrastination Errors?


    Have you ever suffered from procrastination?

    You’ve got so many things to do and yet you find yourself doing pretty much anything but the task at hand!

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    I don’t know about you, but I’ve done many mundane things that usually don’t get the time of day – all due to procrastination! I’ve cleaned the entire house from top to bottom, cleared out my email folders, cleared out the wardrobe, all things that aren’t really that urgent or important in my life – they just serve as a distraction so I don’t have to get on with those big tasks I’m avoiding.

    Sound familiar?

    There really is nothing more debilitating than being caught in the grips of procrastination. It stops us from focusing on what’s truly important to us, which can for many, lead to an unhappy, unproductive life.

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    To beat procrastination, first we must understand what the triggers are – and why we bother to procrastinate at all. There are a few common errors people make that can lead them down a destructive path of procrastination.

    Have a look at the below list to see if any of the errors sound familiar to you. Fear not — there are also some tips for overcoming these errors, so read on…

    1. Fear of failure

    If we fear that there’s a chance we may fail at something, it’s common for us to put off even trying. Yet what we don’t realise is that failure is a good thing! It provides us wiht valuable feedback so we can move on and learn from our mistakes. All the greats have learned to love failure. It’s important to spend some time changing your attitude to failure so this no longer affects your goals.

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    2. Feeling overwhelmed about a situation

    This is related to ‘fear of failure’. If we feel that a task is just too big or too overwhelming then again, we will make up excuses to try and avoid tackling it. One thing you can do is to break down big tasks into ‘bite size chunks’. By tackling a big task, one step at a time you will feel less overwhelm.

    3. Too busy with other things

    Often we are unrealistic about what’s achievable. We can take on too many things yet plan a really big goal that ultimately needs more time than is available. We need to make sure we have enough time & energy before we take on a new task. This may mean we need to remove other smaller, insignificant tasks form our list to make room.

    4. Lack of confidence in the task at hand

    If at some level we don’t really believe we can do the task, we will put it off. This links to the first point; fear of failure is really the biggest trigger for procrastination. If you have any doubt in your mind then it’s highly likely you will find other things to do! Make sure you have built up your confidence before attempting a goal!

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    5. How important is the task?

    This is a big one. Many people will set themselves a goal – but it turns out they’re not really that bothered about it. It’s essential you get clear about why you have set yourself goals and what the benefit is for you to complete them! If at a subconscious level you’re not really sure why you’re doing something, your brain will just decide for its self that it’s not that important and therefore demote it to the bottom of your priorities. The best thing you can do is prioritise your goals and then cross off those items that aren’t that important. This will free you up to focus on the goals that really matter.

    6. Is the task really for you or for someone else?

    When we are young we pick up certain behaviours and attitudes form our parents. It can be common when we reach adulthood to carry these attitudes with us – yet they are not ours and they are not really important to us. So, when we set a goal – sometimes it can be someone else’s goal. This makes it very hard to achieve because on some level we don’t really want it. You see this with young adults who have taken a career path into law because their father was a great lawyer. They are doing it for their father and not themselves and at some stage they end up sabotaging the career. Make sure your goals are your goals and no one else’s.

    7. Lack of Focus

    If you surround yourself with distractions then the temptation to procrastinate is much higher! It’s essential you remove ALL unwanted distractions so you have the space to focus on the task at hand! Yes — this means no television, no Facebook, no mobile phone and no emails — unless these things help you to focus. Believe me, the world will not end if you ‘turn everything off’ for an hour so you can focus!

    (Photo credit: Snooze Button via Shutterstock)

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    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2019

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

    Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

    How do we manage that?

    I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

    The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

    How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

      One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

      At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

      After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

      • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
      • She could publish all her articles on time
      • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

      Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

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      1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

      When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

      My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

      Use this time to:

      • Look at the big picture.
      • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
      • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

      2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

      This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

      It works like this:

      Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

      By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

        To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

        Low Cost + High Benefit

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        Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

        Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

        High Cost + High Benefit

        Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

        Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

        Low Cost + Low Benefit

        This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

        These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

        High Cost + Low Benefit

        Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

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        For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

        Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

          After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

            And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

            Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

            Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

            What to do in these cases?

            Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

            For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

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            Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

              Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

              The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

              By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

              And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

              Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

              Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

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              Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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