I wanted to write this post because there was a time in which I tended to postpone some tasks for another day. My thoughts were … I do it fast, then I can do it tomorrow … or don’t like this, better I leave it for tomorrow. But sooner or later that made me feel frustrated
If this is your case, don’t feel alone. Putting off things, or leaving for tomorrow what you could do today, is a human habit called procrastination. And it is very common despite having a high cost since avoidable delays generate a loss of productivity, and diminish self-esteem.
You may wonder why we procrastinate
Procrastination often occurs in impulsive people, with low stress tolerance and who prefer those things that make them feel good immediately.
For example if you have to do a task that you don’t like and you decide to postpone it and do another task that is not so urgent but you find it more enjoyable.
Insecure people also tend to procrastinate. They feel they are not able to do certain task and procrastinate instead of taking time to think, read, seek for information and thereby see if they can complete the task.
Incredibly, perfectionists tend to postpone tasks. They feel they need a long time to do things perfectly (and think they will not find time to achieve that perfection)
When you feel that high expectations rest on you, that may take you to fall into perfectionism, and fear of failure is usually a good ally of procrastination.
The lack of focus can lead us to the postponement of tasks. When we carry several things at once and we cannot determine which is the most important because we have no clear which are our goals. It can also occur if there are many distractions that make us lose focus of what we are doing in our work place.
Often procrastination goes along with frustration. We believe we can do a particular task, however, end up not being as effective as we thought we were. This can lead to fear of failure and thus putting the task off.
Overworking without taking the necessary rest can lead to procrastination.
Performing a routinely task, that is too easy can make us feel bored and we leave that task for another moment.
We talked about what is procrastination and some facts that can lead us to postpone our work … but how can we avoid it?
- Set goals you think you can get to keep you motivated. Those goals must be specific, measurable and bounded by deadlines.
- Plan your daily tasks, as planning is the best remedy to avoid procrastination (you can use a task manager to help you in this regard)
- Don’t overwork. As I said, you need to make a list, but that list should contain a number of tasks you know you can meet.
- Plan only 70% of your daily time, and leave 30% without planning as it will always arise some unexpected events.
- Limit distractions. Throughout the day there are many things that can make us lose our concentration from what we are doing (email, blogs, social networking, music). Writing down the things that distract you and check the amount of time have lost in that is a good practice.
- Make others know what you’re doing and use that to push yourself. If you tell others you want to finish a task for a specified date, you’ll be forced to finish it because you do not want that people think you do not fulfill what you promise.
- Put your workplace in order. Arrange all your papers so that you can easily find them when you need them. Remove from your desk all that is unnecessary.
- Accept imperfection. As I said before, many people put off tasks because they believe they need to be very prepared to do them perfectly. They spend much time looking for a strategy to make their work perfect and very little time into something concrete.
- Work in short blocks. Suppose that a task will take 3 hours to do it. If you try to do everything at once you are more likely to interrupt work and finish procrastinating because it seems a very long task. My advice is to work about 25 minutes and take short breaks of 5 to 10 minutes (the Pomodoro Technique)
- Reward yourself. It is proven people work more at ease when they know they have a prize at the end of the task. Promise yourself something simple every time you meet your daily planning.
Finally … don’t think that using these methods you will achieve avoiding procrastination overnight. It took me more than a month to achieve it.
Do not forget to leave your comments. I would like to know your opinion
Photo jean-louis zimmermann
ALD Group – Virtual Assistance