Procrastination is one of the best ways to sink a project (ranked right up there with fear and confusion) and I deal with it all of the time. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s them- but no matter whose fault it is, it needs to be dealt with.
I, like you, have read many blogs on the topic of Procrastination but this article, by the Michigan Small Business Development Council of Michigan, located in their onboarding material, might be the most actionable I have ever seen.
You can see the entire excerpt on procrastination here reproduced with the permission of the SBDC.
“Dealing with Procrastination
The preceding tools are valuable for any client to learn and use. However, not one of them can be used effectively if the client has a tendency to procrastinate regularly. Most procrastinators are hard workers. They also tend to be perfectionists, fear failure or success, and are not clear about their priorities. Procrastinators frequently doubt their ability to do the job or doubt the importance of doing the job. In any case, procrastination is self-defeating. Therefore, it is extremely important to coach clients on the value of avoiding procrastination. Here are some good tips:
Realize that Procrastination is Futile: Don’t spend time and energy avoiding the task. Starting and completing it will reduce anxiety.
Eat the Elephant: Take a large, overwhelming task, break it up into little pieces and do one piece at a time. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.
Get the Unpleasant Out of the Way: You will never feel like doing an unpleasant task. There is never a good time to do it. Think of how relieved you will be when it is finished.
Set Short Time Limits: Decide how long you will work at a task. If you decide to work for ten minutes and do it, you will feel some sense of accomplishment. If you feel successful, then you will probably continue.
Do the Easy or Interesting Parts First: This will at least get you started. You might then decide to continue because you are part of the way toward completion.
Commit to Someone Else: Set a concrete time for completion with a friend or colleague. Because we don’t like to let others down, this can motivate us to get to work.
Remember the 80/20 Rule: 20% of our effort will complete 80% of our work. Decide on how “perfect” the task must be before putting in all the extra effort. Perfection can sometimes be too costly. Decide when the job will be done.
Be Your Own Cheerleader: Give yourself a pep talk. This can be the push towards getting started.
Listen to Your Excuses: Verbalize your excuses. Say them outloud to yourself. If they sound lame, don’t accept them. Treat your excuse as you would treat anyone else’s.
Thrive On Momentum: When you get started and are accomplishing a task, let the momentum move you forward. Postpone your other plans and keep working.
Get in Touch With Your Feelings: Find out why you are procrastinating. What are you afraid of? What don’t you like about doing the task? Realize that you are allowing these feelings to interfere with your accomplishments and that the results of procrastination can be more distasteful than doing the task.
Reward Your Performance: Choose an appropriate reward to give yourself for completing the task.”
Remember that all of the above tips contain two common edicts of effective time management - DO IT NOW and COMPLETE WHAT YOU START. These tips will help deal with procrastination only if they are applied consistently. Keep this list and go back to it periodically as a reminder! “
Well that’s it. This list isn’t going to solve anyone’s procrastination problems but if you see a 10% reduction in your habitual procrastination because you applied a tool outlined above I would call that a win.
What are your top ways to deal with procrastination?
Were you reading this article while procrastinating on a project?