We all do it. We tell ourselves 'just one more episode on Netflix', spend just a few more minutes scrolling on social media, or bargain with ourselves to postpone a task or activity. Procrastination - the biggest enemy of productivity, and the main reason for that lazy-guilt-feeling.
Despite what others might think, I'm a master procrastinator. For many reasons, I postpone starting or finishing certain tasks, in particular boring ones... So lately, I've been thinking a lot about potential solutions and tricks to kick myself into action.
Although I haven't found a magic formula, here are a few ways to stop procrastination, that have worked for me.
Okay, hear me out. One of the reasons you might be procrastinating, is that the task isn't very important. I frequently add a bunch of tasks into my to-do list well in advance, just to make note of brilliant ideas that pop up. However, when the time comes, the tasks might not be relevant anymore. Therefore, the first question you should ask yourself is - is this task still important? If the answer is no, cross it out. If the answer if yes, move to the next step.
Sometimes, we guesstimate when a task is due. Similar to the above point, if you avoid completing the task, it might be because it's not important right now. I always just add a due date to my tasks in Asana (task planning tool), and the longer ahead in the future this is, the less likely is it that I'll get it right. So ask yourself the question - is this task important now? If no, consider a better time to reschedule to. If the answer is yes, move to the next suggestion.
If you've established that yes, the task is important. And yes, it's important now, you might be procrastinating because you're unclear about what you're supposed to do. I have two helpful tips here.
Firstly, make sure the task is detailed enough, otherwise break it down into sub-tasks. For example, "Social media" is neither specific not detailed enough. What do you mean with social media? Better tasks would be sub-tasks such as "Draft Facebook posts for January", "Schedule Twitter posts for January", and "Like 5 posts on Instagram", and so on.
Secondly, create action-clarity for yourself. Make it very clear what specific action that is required. I do this by beginning each task with a verb. Simple, right? For example "Groceries" isn't action-focused enough. Better would be "Plan meals for week", "Create shopping list", and "Buy groceries".
You might also be procrastinating because you're unsure of how to best complete the task, due to lack of experience or knowledge. That's absolutely fine! No one knows everything. You might also be taking on too much. A list of 30 tasks is overwhelming for anyone. There is a possible solution that most people overlook - if you work with others, you do have an opportunity to allocate the task to someone else. Ask yourself - who would be the best person to complete this task?
Of course, you shouldn't avoid certain tasks forever. If it's important for your work or life, you should build up your knowledge and experience. Then, schedule additional tasks such as "Research best ways to structure a blog post" ahead of a task such as "Draft blog post".
If none of the above solutions worked for you, I'm sorry to say you'll just have to go ahead and do the work. Start and finish that task. The key suggestion that I have here is to bump the priority up for the task, and do it first thing. We are more likely to start with pleasant tasks, and leave the ones we're avoiding to last. Flip this order and rip the bandaid off. You'll feel a weight off your shoulders!
Good luck, hustlers. Remember - to get the work done, you need to do the work. So get going, and stop procrastinating. You can do this!
Ps. I was supposed to write this blog post a few weeks ago - irony at its best :)
The New Executive
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What do you do, when working hard is defined by the number of hours you work? Do you care about perception?