Fighting Procrastination

Do you ever lose traction on the very thing that is most critical for you to finish RIGHT NOW? Where you have to complete something by the end of the week, and you just know how important it is, but no matter what you do, it seems you will never get there?

It happens to the best of us.  Sometimes we will actually be making efforts to achieve that thing, making incremental progress, but we let ‘stuff’ get in the way…we allow networking and conversation to pull us in another direction…there is a meeting we probably don’t need to be at, but just couldn’t say no…we let our minds wander and dwell on home life.

Some people actually enjoy the pressures that come with procrastinating, and using that to drive them to complete their tasks.  They become very focused, efficient, and just power through until it is done.  At the last minute.

Other times, we might not know where to start, or don’t know if we are doing it ’the right way', and don’t feel comfortable asking for help.  On the opposite end of this spectrum, our professionalism (a.k.a. perfectionism) can get in the way too - we want to hold on to our work until it is just right - even if feedback from others might result in future changes to it anyways…and even though others might be waiting for some of the information you have, could start on their work if you would just pass on the draft version...

I think this happens a lot in projects.  Teams that work in silos, understandably, don’t want to pass on incomplete work, even if it is clearly issued as draft at the time.  What if someone uses data inappropriately, out of context?  What if the next steps depend on the work being complete and quality assured, so that their work will not have to be redone, due to corrections in the inputs that could be made later?  That makes sense.

But doesn’t it also make sense to start a task when it is assigned, commit to continual progress, and share results that you can, as you move along in your work?  To be a bit more open and collaborative, so that the project as a whole can move along more seamlessly, perhaps even to reach the completion date earlier than planned?  Perhaps with more dialogue between teams, you would find that only particular information is necessary for sequential team work to proceed - information that you already have and know is correct.  Wouldn’t that add more flexibility, more float, into the schedule to provide greater contingency?

In working on my own, I find that I need to be careful with procrastination and allowing those distractions to take up my time.  I may not be holding up other people’s work, but I definitely am putting a lot more pressure on myself when it comes to meeting the deadlines that are set in stone.  There are a distinct number of hours between now, and when that deadline will arise, right? 

If I am unproductive now, I will be working a lot more of my future planned ‘free time’ to still meet that deadline.  This happens, too, for project personnel who have no slack in their schedules - they end up working longer hours just to get things done on time.  And that means, less family time, working into the night, and missing out on extracurricular activities.  And no one wants that, least of all me.

So, in answer to the challenge issued today, in Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge, I am committing to scheduling blocks of time where ONLY work on those important tasks will be performed - that means all social media and email notifications get turned off…the voicemail can take my calls too! 

I’ll start blocking these times first thing in the morning, when I know I am most productive. Breaks shall be scheduled in, to allow for the mind to wander just a bit, to allow for a stretch and time to move around (did you know that activity has been shown to allow clearer thinking?)

I know, with the plans that I have laid out, if I can do this consistently, progress will be clearly made - not just obvious to me, but also to others around me.

What tricks do you use to keep your mind on track, and just get things done?

Photo credit: Dee'lite via / CC BY