When you think about procrastination, or someone you know who is a notorious procrastinator, you might mistakenly think of someone with a lot of unfinished tasks. I say, mistakenly because those who procrastinate are actually getting a lot done…just not necessarily the right stuff.
In fact, the very definition of procrastination is “the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the ‘last minute’ before a deadline.”
For example, you have a project deadline at work, and you know it’s going to require some overtime. Perfect time to finally paint the bathroom, right? Or, your spouse asks you to get all of those receipts and paperwork in order for your taxes, but you’re just too busy cleaning the garage. Sound familiar? I own and run a Productivity Consulting business and I procrastinate. We all do it. It’s not like you’re getting nothing done. Those boxes in the garage have been taunting you all winter. Garage clean: check! Sense of accomplishment: check! Taxes done: uncheck! Starting to make more sense? Procrastination isn’t about laziness, or lack of determination. It’s basically tricking your mind into thinking you’re accomplishing something meaningful, while the real task at hand remains incomplete. Madness, I tell you! Complete madness.
The problem with this maddening cycle of procrastination is that the guilty (you know who you are) can be getting so much done, that they appear to be very busy, functional people. In reality, however, all of those important tasks (bills, taxes, work projects/presentations, etc.) are piling up and missing deadlines. How can you stop perpetuating the madness, and live a more productive life?
These 3 quick tips will help get you on your way to beating procrastination once and for all!
1. Pick a partner. Sharing common goals with another person can help you both be more productive. A motivation buddy can let you know (nicely) when you’re falling behind, and help you get back on track. Choose someone who will be honest with you about how productive alphabetizing your collection of mixed tapes from the 80’s actually is.
2. Assign a time limit. If you designate 30 minutes or an hour each day to a job that, in your mind, is going to take eons, it becomes a more realistic goal. Pick the same time each day, and stick to it!
3. Stop trying to be perfect. If you’re avoiding a task for fear of failure, you’re not alone. Everyone wants to succeed, but wouldn’t you rather have a rough draft than a blank page?
Most importantly, remember, you are not lazy (after all, you just cleaned the garage), and you’re not a failure. Be honest with yourself, and start small. You’ll get there, and when you need an extra push, know that help is just a click away!