Have you fallen into the procrastination trap?
I know I have on more than one occasion, and a recent article in the Harvard Business Review had me assessing my thoughts and habits and what I found really surprised me.
If you are a serial procrastinator (like me on occasion) you probably are guilty of one or more of these three factors.
Habits and systematic approach (or lack of one)
Negative emotions (a desire to dodge them; i.e., anxiety, boredom, etc.)
Your Thinking (making a mountain out of a molehill)
I find myself grappling with the latter two and often cause myself more anxiety and grief than the task warrants. And I frequently find myself afterwards thinking… "Wait, it wasn't so difficult after all!" Have you ever felt this way?
If you're like me and fall into the trap of overprioritizing and deferring seemingly larger projects, you're teetering dangerously on missed deadlines. Read on!
I discovered some helpful methods and building healthy habits while exploring some basic strategies for getting over my "mind-over-matter" issue, a system of launching into new tasks or projects and getting the ball rolling, and avoiding to-do list anxiety.
Yes, we all have moments where we think... "I'd rather be . . . than <insert tedious task>," and I don't beat myself up over it, but maintaining a routine helps avoid distractions. In my previous blog, Creative Productivity! Supercharge Brain Power and Stick to the Process, I discussed how I scheduled my tasks more effectively around phone calls and appointments. This is ideal for getting my daily task started.
But for projects that constantly appear to be on the back burner, I've devised a strategy that involves envisioning myself performing the task. How it would appear at completion, potential results, or hiccups This allows me to let go of my inhibitions about commencing the task. When I'm feeling completely uninspired, I reach out to MerriLyn and brainstorm ideas and workarounds. This usually gets the ball rolling.
I often chew the cud over tasks that stir up negative emotions... Either because the task is not challenging enough for me because it’s a long-drawn-out time-consuming process and I worry that I won’t have time to complete other pressing tasks, or simply because I'm afraid of failing or making mistakes.This is me in most instances and sometimes responding to a simple email or sending out a calendar invite can be daunting. And this is how tasks tend to pile up.
I've discovered that evaluating my feelings helps me deal with the situation better; boredom, anxiety, and fear of failure are usually my top three culprits.I then look for the silver lining or added value in accomplishing the task. For example, the potential to learn something new outweighs the fear of failure. Positive self-talk and rewards at the conclusion of a task, as well as some ambient music and a scented candle, usually get me on the right track.
While some of us may be prone to underestimating the complexity of a task and allowing deadlines to slip as a result, I am the polar opposite. When I look at a task, I am immediately overwhelmed, and the snowball effect sets in. Then I realize I don't have nearly enough time to manage this in addition to my everyday tasks. I visualize a giant looming in front of me, and I cower in fear and change the task repeatedly.
Once I work on the task, my inhibitions melt, and I'm left thinking... "Wow, that was easy!" This has happened to me on more than one occasion! This is my thought pattern faux pas. I will push myself to think positively about the task if I alter my thinking. I focus on steps that make the process easier or that frame my ideas in a more positive light, and I concentrate on the sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing an item off my to-do list. To be honest, I'm still working on perfecting this.
There will always be days when you don't want to get out of bed. Then there will be days when you feel like a sonic boom because you are so productive. But the real way to overcome procrastination is to surround yourself with tasks you love, delegate tasks that you don't love doing, and take care of yourself by paying attention to your emotions, thoughts, and habits. When all else fails, you can rely on the trusty support from a team like Assistants4Hire who specialize in doing what they love!
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Written by Tatum De Souza