Procrastinate ‘a verb – to delay or postpone action: put off doing something. Recognise anyone?
Yes, without a shadow of a doubt we have all been there; and more recently, loss of focus and drive with all the distressing reports of the ongoing effects of the global pandemic make procrastination part of the ‘new normal’.
Recent surveys have shown that around one-fifth of people are chronic procrastinators, and if you are one of them you may need reminding that you need to start being more productive. We all know that procrastinating feels good at the time, but putting off essential tasks has a high cost in the long-term. Not only does it take a toll on your business, but it saps your energy and negatively impacts your productivity levels too. So, how can you beat the delaying habit? Here are a few top tips.
Breaking tasks down Into Smaller Tasks
Often, if a task feels too large or too vague, you put off doing it. It’s all-too-easy to look at those enormous jobs on your to-do list and then overlook them in favour of a smaller task that isn’t as important but makes you feel like you’re getting things done when you tick it off. The key to getting those larger tasks completed is to break them down into smaller chunks. For example, you could break down the task ‘work on cashflow’, update the business plan, and develop marketing initiatives.
Set A Timer
One way of getting started on tasks is to set yourself a timer for a short period of time, say 10 minutes, and dedicate yourself to completing one task in that period of time. Make sure all distractions have been shut out during that time and really focus. You’ll be amazed by how much you can get done.
Give Yourself Rewards
Procrastinating, at the time, feels as if you’re rewarding yourself. So, you need to come up with something that feels just as pleasurable to reward yourself for getting the job done. Evidence shows that giving yourself small treats every time you complete a small task is a great motivator. So, for example, you might choose to have your favourite coffee every time you complete one job on your to-do list. It’ll make you feel good each time you get those jobs done.
Use Implementation Intentions
This tactic is a helpful way of building up positive new habits and to quit procrastinating. Setting implementation intentions involves committing to engagement in the behaviour you desire whenever a certain cue is received. So, for example, you may work offline for 30 minutes after turning on your office light rather than checking your email, or completing a task from your project once you’ve finished eating lunch. Implementation intentions help you to quit procrastinating because you pair the actions that you want to take with actions you do automatically so you don’t have to rely so heavily on your discipline and willpower.
Remember the ‘What I Have Done’ list
For the days when procrastination took over, or other urgent tasks diverted you from that list, do not be discouraged! Get in the habit of a "What I Have Done Today" list, which may include running a business alongside four loads of washing, all part of keeping you productive and functioning.
Hopefully, these tips will help you find the motivation that you need to change your delaying behaviour and make progress on the tasks on your to-do list. Remember, that procrastinating is a habit, but it’s possible to form new habits over time and with practice. You can beat your procrastinating behaviours – so start working on changing your habits today!