I sometimes procrastinate. I tidy up, clear email, reconcile Xero, talk to my plants, write in my journal – rather than tackle the main task. The task being avoided is usually not large or difficult. It’s getting started that’s hard. The longer I delay, the bigger it grows in my head.
Sometimes I procrastinate because I am not sure how to do the task, and I need uninterrupted time to figure it out. Or it is something I dislike doing. Or it’s the many small tasks that overwhelm. Sound familiar?
Once the task is underway it shrinks, and I am left wondering what the blockage was, and why I procrastinated in the first place.
Why We procrastinate
According to John Riddle:
“Sometimes the procrastinator thinks he or she won’t do a good job. This is really a self-esteem issue—as if the person is not equipped to carry out the task. Often the person carries some degree of shame or guilt, and they may not even be aware of. With just enough shame, that it makes that already difficult task seem near impossible.”
Chronic procrastination is a different beast:
“We have found some links with chronic procrastination and ADHD, people who have passive-aggressive tendencies, seek revenge, have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other areas,” said Joseph Ferrari, PhD, author of Still Procrastinating: The No Regret Guide to Getting It Done. “But let’s remember that while everyone puts off an occasional task, it is the person who does that habitually, always with plausible ‘excuses’ that has issues to address,” he said.
The Story We Tell Ourselves
I recall a conversation with a colleague about blogging – he didn’t write unless he had something to say. But I decided that if I don’t have something worthwhile to say each week then that was a problem! My weekly Huddle discipline stops procrastination.
Another procrastination busting tool is tracking. Email can be overwhelming and an empty “in box” never happens (to me)! Daily KPI tracking of uncleared email forces me to either deal with it or delete it, rather than perpetually delaying it! Disciplined tracking creates focus.
Make a Weekly Plan/List
My mentor, Darren Hardy, has a simple weekly planning system – write your top three goals on one page or spreadsheet, then brain dump your “to do” list, as it relates to your three top goals. Any task that doesn’t relate directly to one of your top three goal goes onto the “Devils Vortex List” – to be bunched, delegated, delayed, or deleted.
It’s a simple prioritisation tool that, if rigorously applied, really works. Especially in conjunction with Q2’s One Page Business Planning process.
Summary – Just Do It!
Procrastination wastes time and reduces productivity. The remedy is clarifying what’s important, creating a weekly and daily plan, and then just doing it. Calendarise Q2 activities – the important but not urgent tasks. Check out what Q2 means here.
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