Personal Productivity – Module10
How soon “not now” becomes “never.”
– Martin Luther
Procrastination means delaying a task (or even several tasks) that should be a priority. The ability to overcome procrastination and tackle the important actions that have the biggest positive impact in your life is a hallmark of the most successful people out there.
Why We Procrastinate
There are many reasons why we tend to procrastinate, including:
• No clear deadline
• Inadequate resources available (time, money, information, etc.)
• Don’t know where to begin
• Task feels overwhelming
• No passion for doing the work
• Fear of failure or success
Why do you procrastinate? Understanding your personal reasons will help you create a solution that will work for you.
Nine Ways to Overcome Procrastination
Your ability to select your most important task at any given moment, and then to start on that task and get it done both quickly and well, will probably have greatest impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop! If you nurture the habit of setting clear priorities and getting important tasks quickly finished, the majority of your time management issues will simply fade away.
Here are some ways to get moving on those tough tasks.
• Delete it. What are the consequences of not doing the task at all? Maybe it doesn’t need to be done in the first place.
• Delegate. If the task is important, ask yourself if it’s really something that you are responsible for doing in the first place. Know your job description and ask if the task is part of your responsibilities. Can the task be given to someone else?
• Do it now. Postponing an important task that needs to be done only creates feelings of anxiety and stress. Do it as early in the day as you can.
• Ask for advice. Asking for help from a trusted mentor, supervisor, coach, or expert can give you some great insight on where to start and the steps for completing a project.
• Chop it up. Break large projects into milestones and then into actionable steps. As Bob Proctor says, “Break it down into the ridiculous.” Huge things don’t look as big when you break it down as small as you can.
• Obey the 15 minute rule. To reduce the temptation of procrastination, each actionable step on a project should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
• Have clear deadlines. Assign yourself a deadline for projects and milestones and write it down in your day planner or calendar. Make your deadlines known to other people who will hold you accountable.
• Give yourself a reward. Celebrate the completion of project milestones and reward yourself for getting projects done on time. It will provide positive reinforcement and motivate you toward your goals.
• Remove distractions. You need to establish a positive working environment that is conducive to getting your work done. Remove any distractions.
Eat That Frog!
“If the first thing you have to do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long”.
Your frog is the task that will have the greatest impact on achieving your goals, and the task that you are most likely to procrastinate starting.
Another version of this saying is, “If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first!”
This is another way of saying that if you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest, and most important task first. Discipline yourself to begin immediately and then to persist until the task is complete before you go on to something else. You must resist the temptation to start with the easier task. You must also continually remind yourself that one of the most important decisions you make each day is your choice of what you will do immediately and what you will do later, or postpone indefinitely.
Finally, “If you have to eat a live frog, it does not pay to sit and look at it for a very long time!”
The key to reaching high levels of performance and productivity is for you to develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning. Don’t spend excessive time planning what you will do. You must develop the routine of “eating your frog” before you do anything else and without taking too much time to think about it.
Successful, effective people are those who launch directly into their major tasks and then discipline themselves to work steadily and single-mindedly until those tasks are complete.
In the business world, you are paid and promoted for achieving specific, measurable results. You are paid for making a valuable contribution that is expected of you. But many employees confuse activity with accomplishment and this causes one of the biggest problems in organizations today, which is failure to execute.
Tammy lounged in her cubicle while her neighbor, Ian, tackled a large task alone. While Tammy slumbered and doodled on her white board, Ian flew solo and had to drag Tammy back to reality. Ian rained on her parade, Ian told Tammy that work should have been a priority and the idea that she avoided it made it a monkey on her back. She needed to face the work head on. Ian pointed to the load he carried and divided the work in half and congratulated her for having taken her power back and not backed into a corner. Tammy fought like a champ and faced her fear and beat the procrastination monster into submission saving both Ian’s day and her own.