Handling procrastination – part two!
Exercise: take a moment to list a few things that you tend to procrastinate about. Have cup of tea to come back to the next step fresh. Now… pick one.
Pick just one. If you're feeling brave go for a couple, but all too often there's a "biting off more than we can choose" thing going on here. So for now, pick one. You can come back for another later. You can use your own criteria for which you pick, but the ones I recommend you use are:
- ease – don't pick something that's too hard to work on. (You might need to read the exercise below, first.) Even if you pick something that doesn't save you much time, at least it saves you some: think about picking on something you think will be a relatively easy win first time, so you get the hang of it.
- frequency – look at how often you do (or don't do!) whatever it is you're looking at. For example, if it's something you do monthly it'll not have as big an impact in your life as something you procrastinate about weekly, or even daily.
- time – if you put something of for an hour and it takes an hour that's one thing, but if you put it off for a week and it takes you a day to do it, that's another.
Obviously you need to trade these off against each other. It's a trade-off but only you can figure that out. Personally I'd tend to go for something relatively easy to work with the first time, to get the hang of it. When you've done this once or twice you can move on to harder-to-handle stuff. If that means you don't get such a big impact for now, so be it.
So now you've got your target sorted the next step is obvious…
Spend some time looking at how you can do one or more of:
- artificially make the task more Joyful/Fun
- remind yourself of the ways in which it is Worthwhile as you do the task
- create some kind of Challenge out of the task.
Okay, it sounds easy but it might be trickier in real life. I've put some examples below to give you some ideas, but try for yourself first if you can. (Ideas you come up with for yourself are more likely to stick)
Your circumstances will be different, of course, but you might recognise yourself in one of these…
A teacher who hated marking used the idea of a Challenge to get on with things very successfully.
She asked herself “can I get this done in less time than I did last week?” It's such a simple question but it had a lot of spin-off questions that go with it, such as:
What can I do to make it faster this week in terms of getting ready before I start?
What can I do to make it faster this week in terms of where I work and how I set things up?
What can I do to make it faster this week in terms of not giving un-necessary information to pupils?
An administrator who found the time-sheets they had to look at every week on a Friday lunchtime were making her quite anxious used the Fun idea.
He made a game of it by having silly bets with themselves about who would have filled in the paperwork perfectly; who would have made mistakes that could be sorted out; who would have made mistakes that meant the form had to be sent back to them; and who hand't filled the paperwork in on time.
For every one they guessed right, the allowed themselves a Malteaser. Malteasers that were left at the end of the session were shared amongst the other people in the office.
As a result, everyone loved the game and it became an office event!
|A self-employed therapist was having trouble with the marketing of their business. They found it boring and stressful.
However, they were convinced that what they did helped people get better faster and be healthier so they used the Worthwhile idea.
They jotted down on a post-it note a message to themselves about how many people they could help each month if they were fully booked. They added a couple of other key words about how many cold-calls that implied they had to make each week and so on.
Then they stuck that post-it by their computer, where they could see it whenever they started to wander off onto Facebook instead of doing some marketing work!
As you can see, no one is the same: it depends entirely on you and your circumstances. What all these successful examples have in common however, is that they figured out something specific they needed to change and looked at a focussed and targeted way of changing it they could easily apply.
What they did not do is have a vague, wishy-washy idea about something. Syd likes vague and wishy-washy!