Eliminate procrastination from habits
Do you have trouble accomplishing tasks simply because you can’t seem to find the time or the concentration? Have you noticed that if the task is something you enjoy, you somehow manage to find the time? Many people find that when they face a task they enjoy doing they don’t procrastinate. This is because they can anticipate the sense of achievement they will feel when the task is completed – they are working toward clearly defined goals that stem from their values.
To defeat the desire to procrastinate, you must learn to gather the same excitement for less pleasant tasks. You can do this by creating a clear and favorable picture of your end result. Focus on that result, rather than the tedious or difficult steps leading up to it.
Create yourself a mental “carrot” or reward for completion of that task. Take this situation as an example: You have a speech to make tomorrow. This happens to be one of the tasks that you put at the top of your “least like to do lists.” You have put off writing it all week. It is now 9 p.m. and instead of preparing your talk, you are watching the reruns of an old television show. How can this course of action possibly be better than going to work in that speech? Instead of thinking about the work involved in writing your speech, think about what delivering a quality, tightly organized presentation will mean to you. Think about how much more value your speech will be, instead of sitting for another hour watching the television. Writing your speech now will ultimately result in the satisfaction of a completed task that will reward you. You will experience a satisfied audience and the positive feelings gained from presenting a well-prepared talk. Something far more valuable than an evening with the television.
If you were offered a choice of gifts of $50, $25 or $5, how long would it take you to select the $50 gift? Now imagine your time in this manner. Many times we choose the $5 task, when we should start on the more important $50 task.
Stop and take a few minutes to analyze your workday.
Do you find yourself reading the paper or answering unimportant phone calls when you should be tackling a project that you have been putting off for weeks? Do you find you haven’t made any true accomplishments by the end of the day? If your answers are yes, you are creating unnecessary stress and anxiety for yourself. Try asking yourself, “Is this the most important thing I could be doing right now?” If the answer is no, change what you are doing.
You also can make a daily “to do” list with the items listed in order of importance, checking them off as you complete them. This will give a solid indicator of what you have accomplished at the end of each day.
Besides focusing on end results to get things done, you must also know your own work habits. If you are a morning person, as opposed to an afternoon person, schedule your most important work accordingly. Most people function most effectively from the time they get to work until 11 a.m. After that, the “lunch time” agenda sets in and productivity typically does not restart until about 1:30 p.m. Make sure you schedule your work and meetings to take advantage of this.
When you focus on the end results of tasks and the value they have for you personally, you will soon stop putting off those “I don’t want to do” tasks. This gift of focusing helps you learn to see tasks with fresh eyes and instills some excitement in your work.