Stop Procrastinting … NOW!

ProcrastinationProcrastination is postponing a task or requirement because there may be some pain involved. In most cases, we may be able to delay the pain, but the problem usually doesn’t go away.

There are two steps that you can take to “kill” the procrastination habit. You must develop a plan to manage the job (or task) and manage yourself.

Manage the task
If you have a problem tackling a large job, consider splitting the job into manageable tasks or chunks. There is an old joke that says, “How can an ant swallow an elephant?” The answer is “One bite at a time.” So we can adapt that idea and ensure that our bites are specific and practical. Some deadlines will appear to be reasonable and within your ability to achieve them, but challenging. You may have to work a bit smarter and harder to avoid failure.

Always set up a valid method for tracking your progress because you may feel as though you are doing more than you actually are. Increase your productivity by tracking what you’ve done and holding yourself accountable for meeting your commitments.

Don’t be reluctant to ask your team leader or manager for ideas on how to break down a job or project and prioritize your activities. Double-check your deadlines to make sure they’re realistic and ask someone to hold you accountable for implementing your plan and remaining on schedule.

Manage yourself
Procrastination is often associated with confusion, boredom, anxiety, frustration or resentment, and tiredness.

Confusion may manifest in feelings such as being uncertain how to begin or plan a project or task. Do not be reluctant to ask your team leader, peers or manager for ideas on how to approach and plan the job or project. If you don’t know why you are being asked to perform the task, ask your team leader why it’s important. Determine what they expect, and how they will use the results. The moment you start going “off track,” ask for help to identify the steps required to “get back on track.”

Boredom is a risk if the job, project or assignment is mundane or routine. This is tough, but we must try to look for the positive aspects because there may be some parts that may be enjoyable, or at least pleasant. You make be able to “psyche” yourself up and quickly perform the task like the expert and professional you are. In other words, “Just Do it.” If the job is tedious, plan a reward for yourself when you finish the job. Make the job top priority, if possible to get it done sooner rather than later.

Anxiety may manifest as the fear of failure or your team leader desiring a different approach. Seek advice from your team leader and experienced team members to clarify required quality levels. The expectations may differ from perceptions. Sometimes our anxieties may cause us to perceive or believe that projects or jobs may be more difficult than they actually are.

Frustration or resentment may cause you to feel you are being “dumped” on and no one will notice or care. Ask your team leader to determine if the task should actually be done and who has been assigned to help you. Don’t be bashful and ask your team leader for help in overcoming perceived barriers.

Fatigue or the feeling that you just don’t have the energy to do this. The best strategy is to plan to work on the task or project at the time of day when you have the most energy. My personal strategy is to complete my most daunting task or project as early in the day as possible. You may have to make adjustments, such as time zone considerations. Ask a trusted team members for their perspective. Check with the person who assigned the job to make sure you understand what constitutes a “good job.” Finally, take a few short breaks as you’re completing the job.

If you have an interesting anecdote or story, please share and Follow our BLOG. For additional resources and techniques, click here.

James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Leadership, Time Management

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