Procrastination – You Snooze, You Lose
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course! When you have a big project, be realistic about how much you can accomplish each day or you risk becoming overwhelmed and discouraged. Identify different elements of the project and list them separately. For example, if your project is to arrange a meeting of your company’s national sales team, your break-out list might include elements such as Facility, Transportation, Agenda, Food, etc. and each of these can be broken into even smaller bites including tasks, calls, reservations, etc. As you check these manageable chunks off your list, you’ll gain momentum and enthusiasm. In order to avoid boredom, fatigue and disinterest, it is also important to schedule in breaks every 45 minutes or so. Breaks are a great time to positively reinforce your effort by using that time to take a brisk walk, eat a snack, call a friend or catch up on your favorite sports team.
Get free from distractions
Life is full of “shiny objects” that grab our attention. When your goal is to make significant progress on a task you must remove the things that can easily tempt your five senses. Turn off your telephone ringtone and other notifications; close your door and even your blinds, if necessary. Only open computer programs directly related to your project and leave the television off. Since your brain can only process one language-based function at a time, even music with words or a radio station with an announcer talking will short-circuit your concentration. This may sound extreme, but when you know you only have to focus for a specific period of time – like 45 minutes – it isn’t so daunting.
Get it done when you have the most energy
For most of us, morning is our peak performance time and right after lunch we are much less focused. You can judge your best time of day to tackle harder tasks or projects, but the point is to give yourself the advantage of bringing your “A” game to the toughest challenges. If you schedule the big chunks of a project at your lower-energy time of day, it will feel like you’re never going to get it done, which is exhausting, discouraging and self-defeating. Something to consider, also, is that there are things you can do – choices you can make – to be sure you have more energy when you need it. Good nutrition, rest and self-care will strengthen your brain and your body, while junk food, intoxicants and staying up too late the night before will make your project much more difficult to achieve. Success always requires smart decisions.
Get the hard stuff done first
Virtually every job or project has elements you will enjoy more than others, and some you will find boring, frustrating, or time-consuming. Schedule some of your least favorite tasks at the beginning of each day and then reward yourself with a break. In order to end your day on a positive note, also schedule a part of the job you enjoy after the unpleasant work is done for the day. This will leave you feeling more positive when you begin again the next day.
These strategies break down some of the barriers that cause us to procrastinate. If you don’t give up when the going gets tough, you will be able to develop the organization, self-discipline and “success mindset’ that will help you overcome procrastination in your own life. Join me next time when we learn the final three Strategies for Overcoming Procrastination.
Live, Work and Relate Well!
Dr. Todd is a licensed psychologist, executive coach, published author, and national conference and seminar speaker. He has been a featured expert on national and local radio talk shows and television news programs.