The curse of procrastination and the cure
Ever get a great idea while doing something totally unrelated to work? Ever hesitate to make a note of that idea? How many times do we actually remember this great idea by the time we have finished our current task? Even a little procrastination can derail our train of thought and interrupt a spontaneous spur of productivity. This is not to say that we must drop everything whenever we get an idea. Nevertheless, we should be weary of how procrastination affects our productivity.
What procrastination does
Procrastination is a natural reaction. It is an especially compelling option when a task is unpleasant or not particularly interesting. We all feel the urge to procrastinate at some point. It redirects our attention away from the current problem. This, however, does not contribute to solving that problem. Here are a few effects procrastination can have on our productivity.
Procrastination limits us to our comfort zone
Change can be intimidating and the unknown can be scary. Procrastination keeps things as they were for a bit longer. It keeps us in our comfort zone. The downside to this is that it limits progress and discourages risk taking that is necessary for improvement.
Procrastination keeps us chasing deadlines
One sure way to reduce the time we have to get things done is by procrastination. It is the enemy of good time management. We may then end up rushing to meet deadlines for time sensitive projects. Those who do not thrive by working under pressure can find this crunch time stress quite unnerving. Extra effort is usually needed to make up for time wasted.
Procrastination makes it more difficult to prioritize
When we keep pushing tasks back it makes it a lot more difficult to set priorities. It is easier to prioritize 5 tasks today than 10 tasks tomorrow. Repeated postponements can also dilute the sense of urgency to complete tasks.
Procrastination stifles creativity
Instead of focusing on new and innovative solutions to our problems procrastination encourages us to sit back and see if it solves itself. While this may work at times it does not foster accountability or responsibility. This habit can restrict our creativity and keep us thinking conventionally.
Ways of Fighting Procrastination
Since procrastination offers a temporary escape from unpleasant tasks it takes a bit of discipline to overcome it. Distractions are everywhere. Even the most focused of us can get sidetracked. There are steps we can take however to minimize the time we spend procrastinating.
Keep your eyes on the prize
Focusing on our goals is one of the best ways to stay motivated and reduce the urge to waste time. What do we want to achieve? If we focus on the end result of hard work, rather than how tedious the path to success is, our outlook will be more positive. Boring tasks can yield exciting results in the long run. Focus on these positive outcomes to nip procrastination in the bud.
Doing the most important or difficult tasks first is not always the best idea. It can be euphoric if you accomplish them, but it can also be discouraging if you don’t. They also take longer to accomplish providing more opportunity for distraction. If progress is slow, or we have to wait for contributions from others before we continue, this can further limit our productivity.
It may be better to mix up tasks and work on things that are easy to accomplish as well as the more difficult time consuming tasks. Therefore, instead of dedicating the entire morning to one task that we are unlikely to complete, we can allocate some time for tasks that we are sure that we can accomplish. This way even if we do not complete the major task we can have a few minor victories to motivate us.
Start the task
Procrastination can be responsible for dragging out tasks for way longer than necessary. This is especially true when we are reluctant to start a task because of some perception of difficulty. By simply getting started we can get a better grasp of the scope of the task and what will be required to accomplish it. It may turn out that the task is not as difficult as anticipated. On the other hand, the task may actually be more complicated than originally thought requiring us to rethink its scope. Getting started puts the task in perspective so that we can make better decisions.
Look at problems from new angle
Hitting a mental block is a huge contributor to procrastination. When confronted with a problem that we have no idea how to solve we are more likely to try doing something else that we are more comfortable with. This way we can do something else that is productive and avoid the frustrating problem. This is a short term solution though since the problem still remains.
In this situation it may be time to tackle the problem from another angle. This could mean trying a different approach or even asking for help. Getting a fresh perspective of the problem can reveal factors that we previously overlooked that are critical to the solution.
Procrastination is a rel and ever-present problem in business. We are not expected to work without breaks or to eliminate all distractions . Distractions can even be helpful at times. There is however, the risk of procrastination greatly reducing our productivity and we must be cognizant of that. Hopefully these strategies can help reduce the impact of our own procrastination.