Yes, today we’re talking about the huge elephant in the room – procrastination, the productivity thief. You do it, I do it, we all do it to some extent and then feel guilty about it. We might not even imagine how skilled we are at it :) Checking Facebook? Suddenly remembering to pay all sorts of bills? Dying to check the news? Obsessively checking your email? We all have our ways and different reasons why we end up losing time because of it. That is the first aspect of what we’re going to look at today – the “why”. Coming right up after that – the “what” in “what can we do about it”. Have a look :)
- Tendency to postpone things – or to put it in a nastier way, being lazy. There’s always that little voice inside saying “I can do this later”. We say it once, twice, three times and before we know it the pile has already gathered.
- No motivation – it’s so damn hard sometimes to work on a task you dread or find no pleasure in but just needs to be done. Like doing your taxes every quarter, Manu says :))
- Fear of the outcome/feedback you’ll get – this refers to that moment when we play negative scenarios in our mind, mostly coming out of fear of rejection or being criticized.
- Overwhelming complexity – one reason for putting off things is that they just simply look too scary, as if we’ll never see the end of them and make a success out of such a huge task.
- Perfectionism – we tend to postpone completing things because they don’t seem to meet our standards of perfection, yet not yet worthy of being delivered.
- Simply tired? – we all have our ups and downs during the day, times when we are full of energy but also times when we’re feeling completely exhausted. Even though it sounds great, probably only few of us can work 8h straight at the same pace and energy level.
“What can we do about it?”
- Break it down – divide your work into very small bits, it will always seem more manageable
- Acknowledge – best approach on solving your procrastination problem is simply identifying what you’re putting off, make a list of what you need to do and set small rewards to get you through it :)
- Track down the “cost” of procrastination – write down the amount of time spent on doing anything else than what you’re supposed to. Try making small steps, improving little at a time. Tracking timing is another nice way to approach the issue.
- Do it in a “disciplined” fashion – allow yourself small intervals of procrastination as a way to build up energy or reward yourself for having accomplished a particular task
- Make use of deadlines – I don’t know about you but I usually tend to have a productivity boost before deadlines. For those of you that work in a similar way, why not set more deadlines for yourselves? Don’t forget to set a small reward (here I would advise to stay away from chocolate bars and cigarettes … no, that’s not what I am referring to! :) )
- Get rid of the clutter – it might not seem like the most intuitive link to make but it has been scientifically proven that we are influenced by the state of our working/living environment. Keeping a neat and organized desk will definitely help in the fight for a more productive work day. If you don’t believe check out the work of the brilliant Marie Kondo.
- Stop saying “yes” to everything – you need to prioritize and decide what is most important and until when it needs to be done. Be assertive and avoid that pile growing unnecessarily. It will only invite procrastination :)
I wanted to finish this post focusing on a game changer and one of the entrepreneurs I admire the most, one that could actually be a living proof of where productivity can take you. “I’ve actually not read any books on time management,” said Elon Musk :) I guess the secret does not necessarily need to be in such books, no. He does however offer one very brief but powerful piece of advice: constantly think about what you are doing and how you could do things better, don’t forget to question yourself. Would use this as a last bullet point and one to stay. Let me know if it helped and what worked for you.
Looking forward to a productive day,