We all like to think we are doers and don’t procrastinate, but in all reality the majority of us at some point suffer from procrastination. This may not be a problem outside of work, however, in business it can impact on your productivity and success.
Procrastination can affect the most busy and productive of individuals in a calculated manner. Such individuals often apply strategies to beat its onset before it takes hold, however, for many when it sets in it is very difficult to refocus and overcome that urge to put things off to another day. Business owners and managers often have a long to do list which will include several tasks that they cannot delegate but would rather not tackle immediately. The problem with procrastination is that not only does it make you less productive, it also leaves you with a feeling of guilt that you should have used your time more wisely – and the gloom of the task is still awaiting your attention.
So how do you avoid the procrastination cloud?
You have to take control. It is often your mood that will set the tone, so with the right strategies and mindset you can avoid the cloud.
You first need to understand why you are not in the mood to work, or tackle the task ahead. You may just need that cup of coffee, a short break away from your workstation, or it could be more complex, such as larger issues within the task or the working environment (is it noisy where you are? Do other people interrupt you, even if it’s with work-related matters?). It is important to establish the cause of your procrastination; without knowing the cause you cannot find the solution.
Once you have established the cause you now need to focus on the distractions and obstacles that can get in your way. You need to identify them and remove them. This is the only way you will beat them! They may range from existing emails in your inbox, incoming emails, social media, colleagues and phone calls – the list goes on. Analyse what you can do to avoid the distractions and take action to remove them until you have completed your task. This will help you to retain your focus on the tasks in hand; to regain focus once distracted is much harder to do.
The thought of undertaking that task you dread impacts on your mood and consequently often those around you. Just getting started is the most difficult challenge and once you are up and running you’ll wonder why you kept putting it off. Once you are underway not only will you have a sense of achievement but also it will help to improve your mood and productivity. So why not dive right in? The sooner the task is started, the sooner it’s completed and the happier you will be.
There may be occasions where it is the size of the task that is overwhelming and causes you to procrastinate, so why not break it down into smaller tasks? You can then attack the easier and quicker tasks, which will make the overall task more achievable. Some people find themselves falling into the trap of believing that if they won’t have time to finish a task, there’s no point starting it yet. This is where splitting it into smaller tasks makes it much more manageable and achievable.
You may also find that the environment you work in affects your mood and therefore your tendency to procrastinate. Ensure you are in an environment that is free from distractions and allows you to focus. What works for one may not work for another. Some people like standing desks, others like a clean desk policy; some may like lots of plants around them. Do whatever works for you.
Focus positive mental attitude towards the tasks ahead and don’t spend time dwelling on your tendency to procrastinate – that in itself is a form of procrastination! Don’t waste your time and energy thinking of what you don’t want to do – focus on what you need to do and the feeling of accomplishment once it’s done. The results make the hard work worthwhile and make the next challenge appear more achievable and less daunting.
Don’t set yourself up for a fall. Remember if your goals are unrealistic and unachievable then the strategies above will be futile. And if you slip up and find yourself procrastinating – don’t worry! Just re-focus and start the process again.
By understanding the reasons behind procrastination and using the strategies above you are well equipped to overcome that procrastination and achieve great happiness and productivity.