Are you a chronic procrastinator?
I can hardly think of another “bad” habit that will take such a toll on your productivity and forward motion in your career over the years.
Whether you are procrastinating finishing a project or report, procrastinating over preparing a presentation, procrastinating on asking for a raise or a promotion, procrastinating on looking for a new job when the one you’re in clearly isn’t right, or procrastinating on talking to that direct hire who just isn’t fulfilling your expectations -- well, you get the picture -- none of these are good scenarios that inspire greatness or thoughts of leadership and success.
In a very real sense, procrastination drags your life to a near halt. If you have it in one area of life, it’s likely you also have it in many others. The fact that we are all so busy multi-tasking and are bombarded every minute with new demands on our time doesn’t help the procrastinator. Because it provides so many new ways to procrastinate that “seem” important.
Of course I need to check my social media right now. Of course I’d better read all these e-mails now, not later, so I can clear out my in-box.
Here are four fantastic productivity hacks to bust your procrastination habit once and for all.
- As with all things personal and professional development related, you cannot move forward until you take stock of where you currently are. If you are a procrastinator, just admit it. Nothing will change until you face it and realize you need to take concrete action steps to solve it.
- Make and update your to-do list every morning when you get to work. Prioritize it. Of your main priorities listed, immediately do the ones you least want to -- the ones you are most likely to procrastinate on.
- Watch for when and why you procrastinate. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it will be really hard to do anything differently. Where does your time go? Do you check Twitter or Facebook regularly throughout the day? Do you stop and call your buddies to make after-work plans? Do those calls ramble on and on? Do you run errands that could be saved till the weekend? You’d be surprised at how many wasted hours you will discover if you start paying attention to your time. For really “hard cases,” you might even keep a time log showing how many minutes you are spending on each thing you do.
- Find ways to make everyday tasks interesting, easy-to-perform and perhaps even a bit exciting. People procrastinate most on tasks that are too boring, or too challenging. You might need to have a good, heart-to-heart talk with yourself about this. Can you schedule rewards to motivate you to do boring responsibilities? Can you find any ways -- training, personal development, learning new job skills, asking for help, etc. -- to make the challenging tasks more manageable?
There's no shame in needing help ... no shame in feeling daunted or even scared.
But yes, there is shame in simply procrastinating forever and never getting key tasks done. That will do your career no favors.
And lucky for you, this is one habit that won’t lead to any painful withdrawal when you kick it. You’ll reap the rewards right away.
Another possible reason for procrastination is having expectations that are wholly unrealistic.
You can never meet these types of expectations, so you keep putting them off for a tomorrow that never comes -- doing everything else on your to-do list instead. Again, there's no shame in readjusting your expectations to make them more realistic.
Perhaps you can't craft and deliver the world’s most inspiring presentation that will be quoted and referenced for generations to come. But if you drop that unrealistic expectation, then perhaps you can write a competent, professional, even polished presentation that will move you and your career forward. Get it?
Tell me your procrastination reasons and fixes, if you have any. And please, do it today, not mañana.