We’ve all been there….it’s Monday morning. You have just poured your first cup of coffee and are now surveying what’s piled up on your desk. You need to get focused but have just returned to work after a long weekend and it’s more challenging than usual. Add in procrastination and the week isn’t getting off to a very productive start.
What to do first? There is one excuse after another for not starting many of the higher priority tasks on your to-do list. Since you can’t seem to identify a good place to start, you avoid the issue at least temporarily and get a coffee refill.
Just about everyone that I know including myself procrastinates at one time or another. The reasons for doing so vary. Sometimes the task is something that you simply dislike while other times it may involve charting new territory and you don’t know where to start.
There is a solution. By changing existing habits and creating new ones, you can more effectively manage the tendency to procrastinate. Here are some strategies that I follow when I find myself procrastinating:
- Start with an easy task. If you just can’t get started on that day’s top priority, find an easy, small task to do that will get you going and put you in the right direction. For instance, if you are putting off making those 10 prospecting calls, get into the calling mode by returning calls to a colleague who is also a friend. From there it will be easier to segue to making the 10 calls.
- Take small steps. Divide a project into a series of smaller steps that take 30-60 minutes each to complete. You can then tackle them in a systematic manner over a period of time. Try creating a checklist detailing each of these small steps and check them off as they are done.
- Block time. Set a deadline for completing each project. Once you have done so, approximate the amount of time that will be needed to get the task completed. Block out a sufficient amount of time on your calendar for all of the tasks.
- Know your prime time. It is important to get that dreaded task done before you tackle any other tasks. It will be easier to do so when your energy level is high. Prime time for some is first thing in the morning while others are more energized later in the day. Be aware of this so that you can schedule your day accordingly.
- Reward yourself. You can use a simple reward as motivation to get a task done. This can be especially helpful when trying to complete a task that you have put off for a long time. Schedule a trip to Starbuck’s or to the vending machine for a sugar fix to celebrate your accomplishment.
Applying a combination of these tips will not only help you to better manage your procrastination, it will also reduce the stress that is created by this behavior and increase your productivity.