Why is procrastination an issue? Not doing what you should be doing risks you missing out on rewards, promotions, or even your reputation for getting things done.
Challenging yourself not to procrastinate requires digging deep for those tools inherently within you, to help you focus and get on with the job. That way, you will Get More Done!
Procrastination is natural human behaviour. You want to do the things you enjoy, not what you don’t like doing.
You know that doing the tasks you should do achieves the necessary results. Take successfully completing a client’s project; the reward is that, in their delight, they offer you further work, leading to a successful business relationship.
Another example is putting the effort into delivering a large tender document to win an important new client. Or it could be a task as simple as cleaning out the kitchen cupboards! All your efforts will earn rewards – either financially, physically or emotionally. Perhaps simply a sense of achievement or relief.
Yet even when setting clear goals, and the steps needed to achieve them, procrastination can creep in. Why is that?
Quite simply, it’s SAD.
There are three elements to why procrastination happens – skills, avoidance and distraction:
- Skills: Ask yourself why you’re putting off the task. Often, the answer is that you think you don’t have the ability or you don’t know how to start. Chances are, you do!
- The simple answer here is to either: learn how to do it – seek out some relevant training – or delegate to someone who has the skills and the time to do it for you.
- E.g. If you had a leaking tap, YouTube might be a great source of plumbing tutorials. Alternatively, phone a professional plumber.
- Avoidance: This is usually because you’re worried about the outcome, that could be a fear of either of success or failure. You may worry that, if successful, you’ll be asked to do that onerous task again. Or that by achieving the goal, the next one could be even scarier. Fear of failure is often even more debilitating. Some people won’t even try to get started or make a decision for fear of making the wrong one.
- Figure out what it is that you’re worried about.
- Once you know, research and plan. Usually, gaining knowledge minimises worries.
- What are you telling yourself? If you have negative self-beliefs, change them into positives. Whatever you’re telling yourself, do the opposite – “I’m too scared” turns into “I’m feeling brave and will get that done.”
- Distraction: Are you aware of being distracted? Many people aren’t. We often tell ourselves that what we’re doing (that’s not related to what we should be doing) is more important. Like doing a task someone asked you to do instead of working on your important project. Or even tidying your files! I have some clients who ask to change our next coaching call because they haven’t done their homework. I won’t let them. Instead I ask why not to find out which aspect of SAD is at play. Frequently, this is the time when my help is most valuable.
- Prioritise your tasks. Despite the notion that we could multitask, it’s not as efficient because switching between more than one thing at once weakens the ability to focus.
- If you’re easily distracted by calls and emails, put your phone on silent and close your emails, checking them later.
- Consider what’s important. Is that goal needed now or can it wait so that you can do something that you’d prefer? I’ve known some people put a hard goal off for a year or more, which was what was needed at the time, and then they came for coaching at a more appropriate time to tackle it.
Time is often an excuse for not doing what’s necessary. How often do you hear yourself say, “I didn’t have time.”? Probably the hardest distraction is when the boss demands your time. You end up spending too much time on everyone else’s demands instead of your own goals. It takes self-management to balance the requests of everyone around you with your own needs, especially if you prefer the options they’re offering. Often, you’re eager to do them, and your inner voice confirms that you’re being helpful. You’re not helping yourself, though!
What’s causing your procrastination tendencies? Procrastination could be a combination of all three issues – skills, avoidance and distraction – especially if you’re struggling at work. For instance, if you’re avoiding a difficult task you’ve been asked you to do, because you think you don’t have the skills, whilst others are distracting you with their tasks to work on.
Procrastination can be frustrating for you and others, so use the tips above to train yourself to approach tasks from a better angle. If you’re struggling with the self-management necessary to beat procrastination, know that you’re in good company and perhaps working with a coach will help you to get more done.
Coaching for Accountability
Procrastination is common. I must admit, I’m a champion procrastinator! I need accountability and that’s where my own coaches and mentors are wonderful at helping me to get stuff done.
I talked about SAD – Skills, Avoidance and Distraction – above. Distraction is probably the most common reason for regular procrastination and that often masks a deeper fear or reason for avoidance so it’s important to get to the heart of the problem.
That’s where finding a good coach or mentor to work with will help, so here are ten tips on finding the best coach for you. It could even be me! Please get in touch to chat about how I can help you stop procrastinating, become accountable, find your motivation and start working productively.