Be honest, how many of you are procrastinating right now by reading this article? (Don’t worry editors, you are pardoned this time.) How many have vocalized your procrastinating habits, only to be met by a room full of agreement and sympathy? It must not be that bad then, right? Think again. Although humans have recognized procrastination since 800 B.C. (the Greek poet Hesiod once warning not to “put your work off till tomorrow and the day after”), embracing procrastination does nothing to help mitigate the situation. Below are four ways to combat procrastination in the workplace and beyond:
Tip Number One:
If you have trouble getting things done, try scheduling them out. Designate a specific timeframe in your day to complete the task, and set an alarm on your phone. If it’s a project you’re truly dreading, sandwich it between two more favorable activities, or ask a trusted coworker/family member to remind/hold you accountable for finishing.
Tip Number Two:
Make it as easy as possible for yourself to complete the task you want to. Some tasks will always be unpleasant, but most of the time, starting is the hardest part. One way implement this tip is through exercise . If your goal is to run three miles each morning before work, lay out your shoes the night before. Heck, lay out your socks as well, and sleep in your workout clothes. Make the steps as simple as possible so when you wake up or are ready to work, there are no excuses to procrastinate and you’re less likely to roll over and press snooze when you’ve already put some effort in. This technique can apply to almost any situation, whether it’s getting a fresh water bottle before writing an email or sharpening your pencil before you outline a presentation. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Tip Number Three:
Give yourself a carrot. Tell yourself that if you finish a blog post, you’ll get to watch an episode of House of Cards, or each snack equals one completed spreadsheet. If you make a certain deadline, you’ll get to relax when you arrive home instead of panicking. If that isn’t enough, give yourself a stick! You won’t let yourself listen to NPR on the commute home, etc.
Tip Number Four:
If it’s a habit you’re trying to start, keep track of the dates you accomplish said habit in a visual manner. This could be through something as simple as a calendar with x’s, or as high-tech as an online to-do list. Once you have a streak going, you will be more reluctant to break it.
So what are you waiting for? Carpe those diems (and noctems if need be), and help your business fight procrastination in the workplace!