Procrastination is a symptom. It’s your body and mind telling you there is some area of stress that you are focusing on. By relieving the feeling of pain associated with actually doing the task you are putting off, you are reducing your anxiety by focusing on something more pleasurable or less demanding.
Remember, procrastination is an end result, so you might want to diagnose what’s causing it first, before you dive into these tips and techniques:
Break any projects you’re working on down into more manageable chunks
Time management guru Alan Lakein suggests using the Swiss cheese method. By knocking holes into projects (doing small tasks associated with it) you don’t see it as a massive mountain, just small journeys to the next base camp.
Aim for a short period of interrupted, quality time that you can devote to the task. Even 20 minutes of focused effort can break the back of many big tasks. At the end of this time, make sure you give yourself a quick reward…a cup of coffee, a walk in the fresh air, a piece of fruit…anything that tells the brain it gets rewarded for completing that bit of the task. It then looks forward to the next 20 minute slot!
Remember your own needs…plan for and carry out some recreation time…but only when you have kept your promise of doing what you said you would with the task.
Use appropriate self-talk to keep momentum going. Words like ‘I choose to’ and ‘I want to’ are better than ‘I must’ or ‘I should’.
Don’t aim for perfection. Excellence is usually good enough for 99% of your stakeholders.
Reward those small wins and share successes with others.
Remember, procrastination is just a matter of thought processes. By concentrating on the benefits of finishing the task instead of the pain of doing it, you should soon see a change in your motivation to overcome procrastination.
Mark Williams is a learning and development professional, using business psychology and multiple intelligences to create fascinating and quickly-identifiable learning initiatives in the real-world business setting. Mark’s role at MTD is to ensure that our training is leading edge, and works closely with our trainers to develop the best learning experiences for all people on learning programmes. Mark designs and delivers training programmes for businesses both small and large and strives to ensure that MTD’s clients are receiving the very best training, support and services that will really make a difference to their business.