Are you a procrastinator? A report in the UK revealed last week - it was actually a couple of weeks ago but I procrastinated this post - that Britons spend nearly four hours per day delaying tasks that they know they should be doing! You may procrastinate by reading the news, chatting to co-workers, doing unimportant tasks and general time wasting. Many of us may not even admit our own procrastination to ourselves, but eventually it will show its impact. Procrastinators tend to be unhappier, less likely to meet goals or to get promoted and more stressed.
We all suffer from procrastination from time to time. If it something which is a regular feature of your day here are some tips to overcome your delaying demons.
1. Set deadlines and make those deadlines public. We become more likely to complete a task when feel that others are monitoring us. So share your project details and deadline with your co-workers, subordinates or boss.
2. Maintain daily organisation. Procrastination becomes easier when we are poorly organised. Not being able to access the information you need or having a mountain of paperwork to sort is another great reason to put something important off. Stay on top of your paperwork and create structured systems to save the information you need to do your job so it is readily available.
3. Identify next actions. For every project you are working on identify what the next action is required by you. This needs to be specific. Add this action to your to do list, this will make it easier for you to take action when you come to tackle your list. So 'arrange health insurance' becomes 'email past health insurance provider for new quote'; 'brief project team' becomes 'draft team briefing document and invite team to meeting'. A subtle change but one that will have a big impact on your motivation to act.
4. Calendar tasks. Add tasks to your calendar that have to be done on a certain date and organise the rest of your tasks around calendar entries. There should be no compromise on your calendar tasks; they must get done on that day.
5. Make procrastination work for you. Accept that some procrastination will happen, no one is perfect. When you do procrastinate use it to your advantage. You may be delaying that really important project but whilst doing that could you work on that sidelined project you meant to go back to? Could you do your expenses or write up that report? As long as you are doing something useful rather than total time wasting then you can feel a little bit less guilty about your procrastination.
For more help with avoiding procrastination and other ways to increase your personal productivity learn more about our Mastering Time Management Training and how it can help your business.