I think it is pretty fitting that I am writing a post on procrastination when I am sitting here writing this post on the day it is suppose to be posted. Procrastination is a topic that has been talked about a million times over by productivity junkies like myself, and is even a topic studied by many psychoanalysts. I think it is such a popular topic because anyone who suffers from procrastinating wants the quick fix on how to avoid it.
Procrastinating is very damaging to our productivity. One of the reasons I use multiple planners is to try to avoid procrastinating. So today’s post is going to be how I attempt (and sometimes fail) at overcoming that dirty word ‘procrastination’
You will not avoid procrastinating if you do not know the reason you are procrastinating. I have said this many times now — reflection! Study your habits and watch your thoughts. There are many reasons we procrastinate. My five typical reasons for procrastinating tasks or plans and they may be your reasons too, are:
- We don’t want to do the task we have to do
- We think we are going to fail at it or are not good enough to complete it–so we keep putting it off–thinking one day
- It’s a small task that can be done at anytime so we keep putting it off till ‘later’
- It’s too big of a task and is going to take too much time that we don’t feel we have at the moment.
- We try to do our tasks but then get easily distracted to other things
Not only do we need to know the why of our procrastinating but we should also know the when. Again this takes some reflection and studying of your habits. I know my worst time for procrastinating is after dinner at night. After dinner I sit down and have a cup of tea usually while watching tv and then it is difficult to get motivated to do anything in the evening. Once you figure out your least productive time(s) of the day, you can try to run interference and make that time of day a least a little bit more productive.
How to avoid Procrastinating & be more productive —and that for me is when it comes back to effective planning. Not just writing down tasks of things I need to complete, but making the plan of how to complete them.
So lets go through my reasons for procrastinating and what I do to try to do to get back on track.
We don’t want to do the task we have to do
Around the house these task for me usually include things like laundry, cleaning my floors, etc. Usually cleaning tasks because as much as I love a clean house, I get no enjoyment in cleaning what-so-ever.
I can schedule these tasks into my planner but that still doesn’t motivate me some days to complete these tasks. However I keep scheduling them, because I really like checking things off my to-do list. I find it very satisfying to look at my to-do list for the day and see everything crossed off. Remember when I mentioned the timing thing above, for me cleaning tasks are all about the right time. I love the feeling of waking up to a clean kitchen, so that means I need to tidy my kitchen at night. When all else fails, reward systems work. Give yourself a reward if you complete all your tasks each day for a week. Or start smaller and reward yourself after a day.
We think we are going to fail at it or are not good enough to complete it–so we keep putting it off–thinking one day
This one is tricky. These are those larger life changes we want that we are not willing to work towards because we are afraid of failure. We want that new job, but are too worried about failing to try for it. I put creating my blog off for a long time, because of the negativity in my mind. What I do for those tasks or projects that I feel I am not good enough for, I break them down into small or manageable tasks. If you want that new job but are afraid you are fail. Make a list of what the job requirements would be. Write a list of what you are good at–force yourself to write at least ten things. Cross reference those lists and see if any of the things you wrote you are good at, would be help you with getting that new job. If they don’t relate write down the skills you would need to improve on to get that job–and try to come up with an action plan for improving your skills.
Again this is all in the timing. If you are procrastinating making the time to work towards your dreams and goals, take notice of the times you feel most productive. Maybe in the morning with your coffee, you have a few spare minutes to create your plan. Try scheduling the time into your week.
It’s a small task that can be done at anytime so we keep putting it off till ‘later’
We all have those tiny tasks that we seem to put off because they aren’t super important, or they don’t have a deadline. However if you are like me and put off a bunch of those tasks, all of a sudden you have half a page list of tiny tasks that are now going to take more then a day to get them all complete. I like keeping a running to-do list of all these small tasks that have to fit into my week somewhere. Maybe I need to call for a hair appointment, or have a return to do at a certain store. I make a list weekly of these small tasks, and then put them in to whatever day they best fit. If I know I have a crazy day at work that day, I leave all tiny tasks out and put them to a day when I know I will be more likely to do them. Again timing is everything for me and my productivity.
It’s too big of a task and is going to take too much time that we don’t feel we have at the moment.
Bigger tasks can be overwhelming. Although I find I am more likely to procrastinate a tiny task then my bigger ones. At work my bigger tasks get moved because I run out of time and want to be able to spend the right amount of time at them. Unfortunately after procrastinating larger tasks, you sometimes end up having to complete they faster and in a shorter amount of time if they have a due date. If it is nearing the end of my day and I don’t have time to complete the bigger task, I will look at the task and see if there is any part of it I can break up and complete quickly to get a head start. Any time you can break a task down it will make it feel more manageable. If you can break it down, then look for other tasks you can move around to give you the time to complete the bigger task. Is there anything on your list that is high priority. Re-evaluate your schedule.
We try to do our tasks but then get easily distracted to other things
This is probably what I struggle the most with. I can get very easily distracted and loose hours of productivity. I talk about that more here 5 Time Wasting Habits That Interfere With Productivity . For me it is reflecting and keeping notes on what and when I get distracted to learn how to avoid it. I often get distracted by my phone and learned turning the sound off didn’t help enough, I have to turn my phone over so I can’t see the screen or put it far enough a way from me. I try only having one tab open on my internet browser at a time, so I won’t get distracted and want to ‘quickly look something up’ Living in the moment helps with distracting and I am going to do a whole blog post on that coming up.
Until then I hope that some of my experiences with procrastionation has helped you. I would love for you to comment below if you have any tips I might benefit from.