This week I’ve been procrastinating.
Yes…everyone does it!
It hit me on my way home from work Monday. I was thinking about the fact the subject of my blog this week is on procrastination, it needed to be sent out in two days and I just wasn’t feeling it.
I was bored. The subject just wasn’t rocking my world and I didn’t feel inspired.
And I started giggling when I realised…I’m procrastinating on writing about procrastination!!!
Perfect. (Yes…I got a few strange looks from other passengers but that’s okay).
I asked myself what I would tell my clients who were procrastinating and starting coaching myself.
- Start with Reflective Practice: Be aware of what you’re procrastinating on
We can’t do everything.
Achieving our goals and innovating in today’s market place requires us to say “no” to 1000 things. You can procrastinate without guilt on 1000 things without impacting your long term goals.
What you don’t want to procrastinate on are your priorities. The things that are important.
We teach our clients to clearly define the top three projects or activities they should focus on each quarter.
Every week review these goals and ask three questions:
- What have I done this week to move my goals forward?
- What am I doing next week to move my goals forward?
- What are the obstacles that stand in my way?
Reflection helps with awareness.
Writing a piece of content each week that makes a difference to our community is one of my top priorities.
Without my reflective practise I wouldn’t have identified that I’d let procrastination become an obstacle to achieving that goal this week.
2. Identify Your Triggers
We don’t always realise we’ve been procrastinating on a task until we ask ourselves the question of “why haven’t I gotten that done?”
We put things off for a reason. The six key triggers that cause us to procrastinate are:
1. Fear of success,
2. Fear of failure,
5. Uncertainty of where to start,
6. Feeling overwhelmed by the size of the task at hand, and
7. Fear of confrontation.
Once we understand our triggers we can work out how to overcome them. Often more than one trigger is holding us back.
Break the task down into manageable parts and schedule time in your diary for action.
If you’re procrastinating on something that is not a priority (often the things you resent or find boring) determine whether this tasks needs to be delegated or dumped.
In this case, I was a bit bored of the subject.
How do you get over the boredom? Challenge yourself. Make it interesting. Look at the task from a different angle.
Bite the bullet, schedule time in and get it done.
That’s what I did. As soon as I realised I’d been procrastinating I scheduled time into my diary to complete the task. I also brainstormed some ways to make the subject more interesting to write (hoping it’s likewise more interesting to read).
3. Don’t confuse procrastination with restoring your energy
I write for a number of business publications.
As you can imagine I’m disciplined about getting each article completed before my deadline. It’s essential that I give myself enough time to work on the article before I write it.
Editors will generally give me the title of an article they want me to write e.g. an editor currently wants me to write about “5 irreversible company culture mistakes.” (Feel free to email me your horror stories)
I spend a lot of time thinking, researching, and consulting with leaders in the market to produce the best possible value to the audience.
Part of my process involves going for long walks because that’s where I do my best thinking.
I might also write a draft which doesn’t quite come across right so I’ll sleep on it and wake up the next morning with a fresh perspective on how to communicate my key points with greater clarity and impact.
If you were following me around for the two days when I do my writing (often on the weekend) you will see me taking a 15 km walk rather than sitting at my desk to write. You might think I’m procrastinating but without that walk I may not come up with the insights I need to write a good piece of work.
I’m not procrastinating, I’m restoring my energy.
How do you tell the difference between procrastination and restorative practises?
Procrastination is avoidance, whereas restorative practice has a purpose and a result.
The trick is to plan ahead. Rather than simply putting two hours aside to bang out an important piece of work, schedule chunks of time to give you enough thinking time to produce innovative and creative work.
Take regular breaks working “sprints” and you’ll find the quality of your work improves.
In a nutshell: It’s all about staying focused on your goals, building in time for reflection, identifying your triggers and scheduling in the time you need to get the work done.
That’s not boring right?