Stop Procrastination: The 7-minute Boost from Idling to Productivity
We have all got a bit of Scarlett O’Hara inside us. Just as Scarlett used to put off unpleasant thoughts until tomorrow, so too we behave the same way leaving unpleasant tasks until the last minute. Like those students idling the whole term round and feeding themselves with lame excuses and ‘conditionals’ until the last night before the exam when they start cramming. How many more ifs, ands or buts can we think out simply to veil and justify the one thing behind all this – procrastination? This is the way we should call it.
Funny to discover, such a sophisticated word holds such a mundane, trivial implication inherent in almost all humans irrespective of their career. Bet, you’ve caught yourself avoiding disturbing tasks at least once in your life, shifting to less important but perhaps more enjoyable or urgent activities. This is the way procrastination reveals itself.
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task that needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the “last minute” before a deadline.
Many of us have a reckless tendency every now and then to misrepresent a well-known proverb to sound like this: Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. After all, the world will not come to an end. And it makes the cut, to some extent, but one must draw the line somewhere. Once you go far beyond the line, procrastination has got a good chance to play a dirty trick on you. The danger mostly holds true for business owners, and those working in managerial positions, subordinates being rarely caught in a trap. You’ve registered a company, knocked together a team of profs, launched a website – now it’s time to give a salute to business procrastination – a trouble that lies in wait for every entrepreneur, newbies and tycoons alike.
At the initial startup phase, it’s a sense of duty towards their business-baby that drives business owners and seems to be a shot in the arm. Once their business has been set in motion, startupers start putting ‘trifles’ into cold storage, thus accumulating them in giant piles.
Whatever reason may account for business procrastination, be it perfectionism or a more objective one like growing fatigue, the biggest danger it subjects you to is the inevitable sense of guilt.
Mired deep in this feeling, you will make yourself liable to more stress that may become permanent if prolonged, which will unfailingly result in the loss of productivity. The guilt you experience often adds more fuel to the fire to discourage you further. Feel like getting to know what you are heading for?
You might shake your head and call Heaven to witness that you don’t belong here and it is not about you…Well, you may carry on. However, you can hardly imagine how many entrepreneurs have fallen prey to procrastination so far being blind to the reality in which they did procrastinate. Don’t feel like joining the ranks? Then hurry up and read about the symptoms of the syndrome; no doubt, you will make out yours.
So, what are the key signs of a chronic procrastinator, how to spot one in yourself and fight the habit right off the bat?
Symptom №1. Substituting deadline work for non-essential activities.
Do not get deceived by engaging in non-critical activities and persuading yourself you are getting things done. Those are the wrong things and you are simply goofing around. Focusing on low-priority tasks on your to-do list is a sure sign of business procrastination. When it comes to replacing, it is usually difficult tasks that we tend to avoid tackling simply to put off potential stress and anxiety pertaining thereto.
- Setting small goals as well as assigning a level of priority to each activity seems to be the right strategy to get motivated daily.
- A good option might be to reward yourself with an easy task once a high-priority one has been fulfilled.
- If everything seems formidable and progress limited, a productivity consultant David Allen and his Getting Things Done will assist you on the way to productive time-management.
Symptom №2. Easy distraction.
Procrastination is not just about bypassing what you have to do, but also about doing what is not on your to-do list. The most typical ways of getting easily distracted are snacking, watching videos, napping and the bane of modern life – social media surfing and other external technological irritants. To combat this sort of procrastination, you should find a way to control your technology and not let it shift your focus.
- Turn off personal email and social media notifications and only check them at designated times.
- Switch off your cellphone and redirect messages and calls to voicemail.
- Insofar as social media are concerned, such apps as Freedom appear to be perfect lifesavers on your way to productivity by blocking distracting apps and social networking websites.
Symptom №3. Chronic tardiness.
If you are notorious for habitually being late with assignments, to meetings, and routinely passing deadlines, then you are the one wearing a famous name of a procrastinator coupled with that of a tidsoptimist – a person who is overly optimistic about how much time they have, and therefore always late. The problem is that latecomers view time differently than punctual people. To fight this kind of procrastination, time management comes out to be a good option. If you fall into this category, mark the actual time spent on each of your daily activities from checking your emails to telephoning your partner or a contractor.
- Mark time and remove everything that bears no fruit and that you actually dislike. If you are using Slack, be sure to install a bot bearing an off-beat name Acebot for helping you.
- Withdraw everything that doesn’t yield the desired outcome but you actually like. Frowning on? Ok, purge your activities partly at least.
- What’s more, while planning your travel time and work time add a buffer zone to contingencies such as a traffic jam or a tire blowout. It has no bearing on stinking thinking; it is all about being aware of possible hurdles. This is particularly significant for high-priority activities like meetings. By the way, one more top-notch bot for Slack named Solidbot will help you manage your day and send you notifications on the upcoming meetings.
- Try the unique Pomodoro Technique that might bring revolution to your daily time management. Breaking down work into 25-minute intervals controlled by the timer and separated by 5-minute breaks will help you stay totally focused on the task assigned. The constant timing of your activities makes you more accountable for your assignments, and diminishes the time you spend procrastinating.
Symptom №4. Performing better under pressure.
Convincing yourself that you perform better if put under stress of a looming deadline? Then you are a genuine procrastinator. Claiming to work best under pressure stirred by the adrenaline buzz and to derive joy from the euphoric idea of smashing a deadline is one more delusive conviction all procrastinators are prone to. Such self-indulgence will fly until the time comes when you find your resources gone down the drain and yourself buried under the avalanche of accumulated fatigue and the very stress you used to worship. Nonetheless, if you’ve failed to find another incentive pushing you to work your hardest, and hold on having deadlines hanging over you like a sword of Damocles, then simply introduce tiny changes in the course of your work.
- Split your monthly assignment into small chunks so that you have daily and weekly deadlines always pushing you forward. The smaller goals you set, the lesser stress you are subjected to. Not to miss a deadline, use Evernote to create reminders that will alert you of oncoming deadlines.
- Take advantage of a digital Toggle timer to be aware of the time spent on every particular task, which will help you understand your capacities and set more objective deadlines in the future.
- A fine way is to create some incentives that will encourage you to go ahead and do better : once I’ve finished with the marketing plan, I will go to Wisconsin for the weekend.
Symptom №5. Fear of failure or perfectionism.
It is a mere fear of failure to accomplish the tasks assigned that not rarely acts as a deterrent to tackling work. Lack of confidence in your abilities to complete the task flawlessly and unwillingness to invoke lambasting makes people put it off as long as possible. It may sound unbelievable, but very often it is not failure but success that makes people avoid fulfilling certain tasks.
Once having performed outstandingly, the stakes get too high, and you’ve got so much to lose. Reputation and money, first of all.
What if you are not able to live up to the overall expectations anymore? This is where perfectionism comes into play. Or another way round, sometimes people delay taking on certain tasks or projects for fear those might lead them to places they are uncertain they want to be. All in all, whatever nature fear might have, it is something that bottlenecks your progress and requires addressing straightaway.
- Do remember, nobody cares for your flawlessness the way you do. Getting things done is what others expect from you, while polishing and pruning things to the utmost remains unnoticed. To stop wondering what people will think, read “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”, 2010 by Brene Braun.
- Take time out and watch a video to realize that we learn from our own mistakes.
- You will never be able to get going unless you give up expecting perfect conditions to get started. They will never show up. Start somewhere and somehow, and in the course of your work, you are sure to notice that it is a smooth sailing.
To sum it up
Whatever form of business procrastination you are engaged in, it’s high time you learnt to spot the villain right off the bat and fight it back using our actionable tips, apps and bots we’ve suggested.
For, if prolonged and overlooked, procrastination morphs into a symptom of a deep-rooted psychological disorder that eats up your time, resources and result, and what’s worse, engenders formidable mental collapse. Blown deadlines, broken promises, lost opportunities and unachieved goals – all this irrevocably inflicts lasting harm on your professional sphere and private life alike.
Among boatload of remedies, the best way to combat procrastination is simply to get started on the task. Yes, just up and do! A good beginning makes a good ending.
But if your productivity is going through the roof and you’re still buried under a pile of work, it’s time you thought over delegating tasks to your subordinates and building a dream team if you lack one.
Tired of everlasting admonitions? Then, take your time and procrastinate a little bit more enjoying a related video.
And… get things moving!