How often do you push off projects because you are dreading the work? Do you feel like you perform more effectively if you are working under the gun?
Sometimes we actually do work better under pressure, but it’s not healthy to work under pressure all the time.
Why do we procrastinate and what can we do about it?
You will probably be very happy to see the first reason that you may be procrastinating:
You are intelligent. According to author David Allen, it’s common for people who are intelligent to procrastinate. Their creative minds quickly build up scenarios that make a mountain out of a molehill.
You may have a form to fill out that you are unfamiliar with, you may be intimidated by the new form and, by the time you build it up in your mind, you’ve fired yourself for filling it out incorrectly.
Be sure to slow down and give yourself time to review what you have in front of you. Break it down into smaller steps so you can simplify and not overwhelm yourself. Read through the information on the form thoroughly to review it and then go ask questions before firing yourself.
You don’t know how to do it. When directions are unclear, when it’s a task we’ve never done before, when we are afraid that we are going to fail, it’s easy to delay our projects for another day to relieve stress. “I’ll take care of this tomorrow,” can turn into our motto. Go get the answers that you need. If you don’t know how do to something, then find out. Ask someone, Google it, watch a video, take a class, check out a webinar or read a book. Get educated so that you will feel confident tackling the task at hand.
You don’t have accountability. Accountability is huge when it comes to getting things done. If you work alone, connect with someone that you trust to become accountability partners.
If you already work on a team, pair up with someone and let them know what you are working on and when you plan on having it done.
Be sure to incorporate one or more check-in dates to keep you moving forward on your project. When someone is going to call you to see how things are going, you surely won’t want to tell them that you haven’t accomplished a thing.
Perfectionism. It’s very common for people to strive so hard for perfection that they push a task to another day or don’t do it at all. I find it interesting that some people give up on being able to complete something perfectly and do a sloppy job instead.
I believe that there can be a happy medium. I had a friend tell me, “Done is better than perfect.” That was really powerful for me. Strive to give it your best shot, be thorough and actually get projects done. Getting your work done imperfectly is much better than the stress of not doing it at all.
You don’t have good habits in place. If you don’t have good habits in place, what are you going to default to under stress? Bad habits.
What do bad habits look like in the workplace when you are supposed to be working? You may be doing some or all of the following: drinking a cup of coffee, texting, chatting, checking Facebook, updating your LinkedIn profile, wandering around, incessantly checking email or surfing the web. If you work from home, the possibilities to get out of your work are endless, from folding laundry to running errands.
Train yourself to plan out your day the evening before so you know exactly what you need to accomplish. If it’s a task that you really need to focus on but you are dreading it, jump in and tackle it without distractions for 90 minutes. Let your phone go to voicemail and be firm with yourself about checking email until after the 90 minutes are up.
You can get so much accomplished if you carve out time to work distraction-free every day.
We all have tasks and projects that are not on the top of our “love it” list. That’s OK, that’s part of life.
The funny thing is, once we just do it, it’s seems that it wasn’t even that bad and didn’t take as long as we expected.
Get those endorphins flowing by feeling great when you tackle your tasks and get addicted to the amazing feeling of accomplishment when you see a project through to the end.
And, don’t forget to reward yourself for a job well done, not perfectly done.