“After all is said and done, more is usually said than done.” – Old proverb
Why do we procrastinate? Over the years, here are some of the things I’ve heard people say in my workshop on time management:
“Because we can.”
“The project is too big, too boring, too difficult, too…”
“I don’t have the resources.”
“I don’t like the people I’ll have to work with.”
“By procrastinating, it gives me a reason to come into work tomorrow.”
“I don’t know how to do this project.”
“I’m afraid I’ll fail.”
“I’m afraid I’ll succeed and then they’ll give me more to do.”
“I’m not in the right mood.”
“When I get around to it.”
Any of these sound familiar? If so, here are 10 tips to help you overcome your procrastination and get down to work:
- Schedule it into your planner. When it’s written down in your book, you’re much more likely to begin to work on it.
- Delegate it to someone. If it’s causing you so much headache, give it away to someone else.
- Trade it with someone. If you can’t give it away, maybe you can trade it to someone for whom your item isn’t such a big deal, and you take on one of their items that for you isn’t such a big deal.
- Fractionate it. This means break it into smaller, bite-sized chunks. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Take a large project and fractionate it into more doable pieces, then tackle just one of those pieces. After that one’s done, the others will be easier to do.
- Take a random start. Begin with the middle, or start with the end. It doesn’t really matter as long as you just get going. For instance, this works when packing up to move. People have told me that it’s just too big a task that they feel so overwhelmed they wind up doing nothing. I tell them to get a box, walk into any room in the house, and fill that one box. Then later get another box, etc.
- Plan a reward or a consequence. Are you more motivated by carrots or sticks? Tell yourself that you’ll go out for an ice cream when you finish the project. Or tell a friend you’ll donate $50 to their favorite charity if you don’t complete the project on time.
- Plan an event. For how many of you your house doesn’t get cleaned until company comes over? So invite your friends for dinner this weekend and watch how fast you’ll overcome your procrastination about cleaning up the house.
- Work with a buddy. It’s harder to procrastinate on a project if you have a friend over to help you with it. Unless, of course, they are real good at procrastinating, too! Then the two of you wind up doing absolutely nothing.
- Tell others. Making yourself accountable to others by telling them you’re going to do something boxes you in and makes it harder to avoid doing it. This could be your boss, partner, coach, etc.
- Set deadlines, especially interim ones. By specifically setting a short-term, targeted deadline, it creates a sense of urgency around the project. And by meeting that deadline, it provides impetus and momentum to keep working.
So there you have it, my 10 tips on overcoming procrastination. Now let’s see, what do I do next with this article? Send it to friends? Nah, too hard. Send it to a magazine for publication? Nah, takes too long. Oh, I’ll just deal with this later.