To say that my recent article on procrastination got a big response is an understatement! The amount of responses, tweets, texts and emails I got was just amazing.
Procrastination obviously resides just below the surface in so many of us!
What I also found interesting was that some argued the “virtues” of procrastination. Truthfully, I found many of those responses to be something of a self justification!
However, it did raise the question in my own mind – was responding to the article another form of procrastination? Interesting thought!
Some asked – is one hour on Facebook or Twitter doing any real harm? Is leaving something off till tomorrow such a crime?
My argument is that “yes” it is doing harm – crime might be taking it a bit far, but you get my drift!
One point in my last article that really resonated with people was “Tomorrow never has more time than today”
But going back to the “no harm” argument – you see if we know we should be doing something that is important, and we spend that time doing “other” things, then we are using up valuable real estate in our heads resulting in a cluttered mind.
The consequence is that you are not leaving the space that you need to drive your success – your ability to create, innovate and dream! A cluttered mind will never create, innovate or dream!
“Alright”, you say, “but what do I do to avoid the dreaded procrastination? “
Well, first advice is – ritualize what you procrastinate about!
What do I mean by that? Well, simply allocate a fixed time every day – I suggest make it first thing in the morning when you are fresh and rested – when you will do those tasks that you procrastinate over. Make it as much of a ritual of having that cup of coffee or tea!
The old mantra of what gets scheduled gets done. So, those reports you need to read, those accounts you must review, those calls you have put off – group them into a fixed time every day.
Try it for 30 days – you will make progress, I promise you
Second piece of advice is – share what you procrastinate about!
Now, I don’t mean just with anyone – find someone you trust and have a close relationship with. But there are good reasons for doing this:
- We know that procrastination can create a level of low self esteem – we have that dreaded little voice telling us how useless we are that we don’t get these things done. Sharing with someone else makes us realize that we are not the only ones who have this issue. This is not an exercise in – “let’s all be miserable together”, but we know that a problem shared is a problem halved, and it does reduce the low self esteem
- By discussing it with others you will naturally find solutions and suggestions to your own issues – and in turn you will offer suggestions to them to overcome their procrastinations. After all, you will be procrastinating about different things.
- You can hold each other accountable. You will make commitments to each other – and having that sort of peer pressure to deliver works wonders.
Again, I suggest you try this for 30 days and you will again see results!
Procrastination is not just a great thief of time, it also steals your life – don’t give in to it, for your sake!
Sandra Larkin says
I had an insight about my procrastination some time ago. For me, it has served as a counterbalance to my perfectionism. If I leave myself just enough time to complete a task, I complete it rather than endlessly fussing over it and changing things back and forth half a dozen times.
My new strategy is to use a timer, set to the amount of time I think the task will take, and work at focusing very narrowly until the timer goes off. It’s an artificial deadline, but it works as a time management tool.
I wonder if anyone else has this experience?
John Murphy says
Sandra, thanks for your comments. I have no doubt it works. It reminds me of the Pomdoro system which basically teaches you to work in chunks of time and have a timer (in their case shaped like a tomato – hence the pomodoro!) that rings when you must stop.
Sandra, if it works it is a good system!
Arjen ter Hoeve says
Thank you for your thoughts.
I would like to add we create a special time during the day when we do the things we do when we procrastinate. Batch process all that stuff as well. So allocate 15 minutes to go to twitter, facebook, youtube, etc. Do it in the morning and in the afternoon.
Funny thing will be… you probably procrastinate during that time as well 🙂
John Murphy says
Good idea! What you are doing is creating a habit and a ritual – good antidotes to procrastination! Well done!!