I keep sending out reminders about deadlines. Then just right before the deadline ends I get a phone call from a client arguing and explaining why 3 months wasn’t enough for her to complete a 6 to 8-hour long online simulation that measures and develops leadership skills… So, what do we do? We extend the deadline for her and keep hoping that she stops procrastinating.
So, why do people procrastinate?
- It might happen that first of all: they don’t know what to do. There are so many options at a workplace as well: check and answer e-mails, put a report together, file and archive documents etc. Out of work options are limitless: going to a cinema or theater, doing some kind of sport, meeting friends, crafting, chores etc.
- They don’t know, how to do what they want to do. I am not talking only about finding the challenge difficult, but about the moment when they realize that they don’t have an idea how to even start.
- They experience resistance: they know what to do and how, but still…keep goofing around and waiting for that perfect moment when they feel strong enough to get outside of their comfort zone.
Is there a chance to beat procrastination?
I learned at a presentation about the psychology of procrastination that younger people and men tend to push their tasks forward…so there’s a good news: if you are an older lady most probably you don’t even know the word: procrastination. But what all the other people can do in order to be able to tick their tasks off of that to do list?
- First of all: have a to-do list. Those things that are not on a list or in a calendar are easily delayed or even forgotten. Prioritize and set up reminders for yourself. The feeling of ticking off tasks from a list is rewarding.
- Start small: choose one thing that you’ve been procrastinating and commit yourself to finishing it within a week.
- Get up, stand up and move around. Sitting in front of the computer all day long just exhaust you and you can easily lose inspiration. Some physical exercise might boost your creativity.
- Schedule time blocks that you dedicate to a given task. Make sure that you can dedicate all your attention to that given task during that period.
- Start today: not like the diet that you always start tomorrow that never comes. There are some things that just hard to start but once you get the hinge of it…
- Fears – sometimes those little voices and feelings are the ones that keep holding us back from finishing or even starting things. Identify and face them – there’s no other way eliminating them from your life.
- Forgive yourself for all those things that you kept procrastinating in the past. Dwelling in the negatives is not paying forward for the future.
- Give up perfectionism otherwise, you’ll never finish anything. As a human being, we all do mistakes. Accept it, finish your current task and step on the next one.
- Do one thing at a time: multitasking (unless you are waiting for the washing machine to finish while you are cooking) is overrated and impossible. For example: you get a phone call while you are writing an e-mail. You would say: I am multitasking. Well…no. You either pay full attention to the caller and in that case, you can’t keep writing your e-mail, or, you keep writing your e-mail and miss the point of the caller’s saying.
- Have a power song that can push you through hard times but also know, when it’s time to be in quiet and ease your mind from all the noise around.
- Do not accept labels like: you are lazy and you’ll never change. It’s a hard and bumpy road to beat procrastination but keep going and doing!