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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)

    More by this author

    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 September 11, 2019

    Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

    Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

    How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

    Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

    To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

    Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

    Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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    • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
    • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
    • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
    • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

    Benefits of Using a To-Do List

    However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

    • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
    • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
    • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
    • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
    • You feel more organized.
    • It helps you with planning.

    4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

    Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

    1. Categorize

    Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

    It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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    2. Add Estimations

    You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

    Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

    Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

    3. Prioritize

    To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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    • Important and urgent
    • Not urgent but important
    • Not important but urgent
    • Not important or urgent

    You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

    Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

    4.  Review

    To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

    For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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    Bottom Line

    So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

    To your success!

    More to Help You Achieve More in Less Time

    Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

    Reference

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