There are days when I find it more necessary to read status updates on Facebook rather than seek out new advertisers. Those are the days when I can’t seem to get my brain to focus on what is important. Those are the days when my business card should read Trudi Evans: Pro Crastinator.
I used to believe that surfing the ‘net was my biggest way to avoid getting down to work, but I find that staring out the window, balancing my chequebook, and writing out my grocery list are just as efficient at wasting my work time. What causes procrastination and how do we overcome it?
We generally procrastinate when our workload includes mundane tasks or projects that contain an element of dread. And it’s at those times that we need to fine tune our passion to make sure they get done well and help build the momentum to continue forward, rather than waiting until the very end. Here are three tips to get over hump and into the work groove:
1. Walk away. When there is something you truly don’t want to do and are finding other things to fill your time so you can avoid the dreadful project, take a breath, admit to it, and then walk away. Giving yourself permission to take a break and clear your mind can help you refocus and regain control of your time management. Before you physically remove yourself from your workspace, take a moment to tell yourself that you are taking this break, enjoy it, and come back renewed. Your break could include going to get a drink and have a chat with a coworker, taking a short walk outside, or any other non-work related activity. While you’re away, focus on what you love about your job and how getting this project done will help fulfill your passion.
2. Reward yourself. If you have kids, you may have used the chart system to teach your kids to use the potty, clean their room, or eat all their vegetables. That chart can be used for you too. Make a list of the jobs you are avoiding and post them up where you can see them. For every one you cross off, you get a small treat – perhaps five minutes with a great novel. They will add up to a bigger reward. Or perhaps for every task you cross off, you put $5 in a jar and see if you can work your way up to a massage!
3. Find a task-master. This can be a challenge for a self-employed person, but if you don’t have colleagues, use your family and friends for this task. Call or email someone and tell them “I need to finish this report by 2:00 p.m. Could you please follow-up with me to make sure it gets done. I’m having a hard time focusing.” This may lead to some brainstorming to help you get over the hump or just give you an added incentive to get back to work, knowing you’ll have to report back in a few hours.