Do you ever find yourself doing anything except the task you are supposed to be doing? Suddenly you are highly motivated to have a major clear out, offer to run errands for your colleagues or feel inspired to file all of your books alphabetically, by genre! If so, then it is fair to say that you will be experiencing classic procrastination.
Procrastination is when we put off or delay doing something which we should be doing. The outcome is that we waste time doing other stuff, are easily distracted and fail to get the important things done.
Why we procrastinate
Procrastination is something which we all experience from time to time and there are many different reasons for this. Sometimes you may just feel stuck with the task and don't really know how to approach it. This could be due to a lack of being organised or insufficient information. The task may not hold your interest and you simply do not feel motivated to do it. It could also be around a fear of failure, perceived lack of skill or due to perfectionism.
Whatever the reason, you will be feeling stuck, do everything possible to avoid doing the task and will not be performing at your best. The good news is that there are strategies which will help you deal with procrastination and get stuff done.
Effective strategies to deal with procrastination
Recognise the signs - Recognising that you are procrastinating is a good starting point. Ask yourself what types of behaviour are you displaying and how effective are you being at getting important stuff done?
Understand why you are procrastinating - Discover what it is about the task which is making it hard for you to progress? For example, is it a lack of interest, confidence or fear of not getting it right? Are there particular tasks or factors which cause you to procrastinate? Once you understand the cause, it will be easier to find a strategy that will help.
Set deadlines - There is nothing like a looming deadline to get you motivated! Make sure that you set a realistic deadline to complete tasks, or each stage of the task, and stick to it.
Get organised - Being organised is key to dealing with procrastination. Make sure you plan your day, have the information you need and allocate sufficient time for each task. Set targets for what you want to achieve and build in breaks to keep you on track.
Break down the task - If a task feels too big, break it down into smaller manageable chunks. This will remove overwhelm as you feel more in control and confident in how to approach the task.
Set realistic standards - Sometimes a fear of not being good enough can stop you from getting started. Be realistic about what you are looking to achieve. If perfectionism is a problem, set yourself realistic standards and be happy with 'good enough'.
Remove distractions - If you know that you are avoiding doing a task, then removing any distractions will help. Create an environment which helps you to focus, or work in a distraction-free area for parts of the day.
Ditch the task - Sometimes the task may not be the right thing for you to do and it is OK for you to ditch a task. Ask yourself how important the task is to you and discern whether you should continue or not. But make sure you know the difference between giving up too soon and it not being the right path.
Reward yourself - Having an incentive is a great strategy for getting motivated. Allow yourself small treats as you go along or plan a big reward once you have completed the task.
Change your mindset - A negative mindset will keep you stuck in procrastinating behaviour and prevent you from moving forward. Focus on the benefits you will gain once the task has been completed and use this as motivation. Once you know how you are going to approach the task, be positive about your ability to achieve this.
Accountability - Being accountable is important and a great way of finding the motivation to get on with a task. If you are not directly accountable to anyone then find someone who can check in with you to keep you on track. There is nothing like telling someone your plans to get you motivated. A friend, mentor or coach can help.
Practice good habits - Once you find strategies which work for you, learn from them and use them as tools to help you overcome procrastination and get things done.
Remember that we all experience procrastination at times. The important thing is to recognise the signs, understand why you are procrastinating and then find strategies which will help you to move forward. Learning how to beat procrastination will ensure that you get the important stuff done and also enable you to grow both personally and professionally.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog
My name is Diane Benson and I provide clarity and focus - helping you create a fulfilled personal and professional life.
As an experienced coach, I support you to be more effective, reduce stress and achieve a healthy balance in your life.
Sign up for access to my FREE RESOURCES which are designed to support you in your personal and professional development. You will also receive my blog and other news and tips once you sign up.