16 Nov How to avoid procrastination
Margaret Thatcher said: « Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan ». Sounds easy. But what if we plan the hell out of our work…and then get stuck?
All of a sudden, there is a white wall in front of us with no door. The project seems too complex anyways. And we will probably fail. It can probably wait a bit. And then something else comes up that looks much more urgent, and interesting, and fun. Like a Facebook ad leading us to an event invite and a blog article like this one….as soon as we look up, three hours are gone and our plan did not work out. Excuses and distractions are ubiquitous and very easy to find. Procrastination is the name of the game.
Yes, your project can wait. And there is enough interesting information out there to keep you busy and excited for the next couple of years. And you will master the situation last minute if needed. Yet, how do you feel after procrastinating? Probably frustrated and exhausted to find excuses and justify your delay. Tired from rescheduling, starting again, never having a free mind.
So what are the actual causes of procrastination? Why does our brain stop us from working our plan? There are technical reasons like the project is actually too complex or we over-estimate the time the task takes. But most of the time, the causes are psychological. Often, we are afraid of failing or succeeding and prefer to stop before heading off into the unknown. Or we are the perfectionist kind and cannot move on unless the tasks are completed to our full satisfaction. Sometimes the underlying reason behind that is actually a lack of self-confidence and a need to prove that we are perfect.
Now, think about the benefits of not procrastinating. If you get your unpleasant tasks out of the way and work your plan, you will be able to reduce your stress and frustrations and enjoy much more free or me-time. Imagine the difference between the kid whose mother has been yelling after for three hours because he kept procrastinating on his homework and the kid who had three hours of free time to play with his mates…
Here a couple of tips to tame the little devil on your shoulder that tells you to procrastinate:
- If you can’t get started, the first step is probably too big. Divide the task in small and feasible sub-projects.
- Follow your instinct to make faster decisions. Do not spend too much time thinking about the perfect answer.
- Always visualize the end state and keep your goal in mind.
- Combine pleasant and unpleasant tasks, like running on a treadmill while watching your favorite show.
- Give yourself a time limit for completing the task. Use a timer, and avoid cheating.
- Learn how to better estimate the time the tasks take. Do you over- or under-estimate the time? Keep a time log to understand how you actually spend your time.
- Give yourself a reward when you finish the task or project, like taking a bath after studying for your exam.
- Work the difficult projects during your personal peak hours, i.e. when your energy is at its highest.
And now, stop reading this, and start working your plan!
If you live in Geneva/Switzerland and want to know more about time management, why don’t you sign up for our next workshop?
November 20th: La Gestion du Temps – priorisation et planification
Location: SoHappy, Rue de Carouge 28, 1205 Geneva
Price: 50 CHF per workshop
Register at: info(a)organizing-geneva.com