Overcoming procrastination is something so many people need to work on. People put things off over and over and over. It’s easy to let time slip away. Our to-do list keeps getting longer and longer and we lose focus on what needs to be done. In today’s stressful world we seem to have a million things to do. Call clients, clean the office, check LinkedIn, check Facebook, update our Twitter and Facebook business page, schedule a conference call… The list goes on and on.
We put off a couple of things on the list and think we’ll get to it tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes for some of those tasks that keep getting put off. Are you putting off making that doctor’s appointment you need to make? Are you putting off cleaning out your storage room? The task could be a big one or something so simple it would take you only a minute or so to get done, but we still put it off. At the end of the day when we are getting ready for bed we realize we forgot to do something on our list that needed to be done. Now the office we meant to call is closed until Monday. By the time Sunday night comes around, we forgot we needed to call the next day. It happens to all of us from time to time.
The first thing you have to do to overcome procrastination is realize you are doing it. Admit there is a problem and be determined to solve it. Understand that you are only one person and can’t take on every task you and others give you if you pile them too high. There are times we need to delegate tasks to someone else. Our accountants, housekeepers, travel agents or other people we hire are hired to do things we either don’t want to do or aren’t qualified for. If we are unable to hire people for it, we need to find the best way to get things done without taking up too much of our time allotted for other more important tasks.
I needed some videos transcribed for my YouTube channel videos ( http://www.YouTube.com/JohnPullum ) it was really time consuming to sit there and listen to a sentence, type it out, pause it, rewind to make sure I got everything right, etc. It was taking time away from more important things I had to do. I hated it. I ended up hiring someone to do it for me. That left me free to get things done that were a higher priority on my list. Time is money and it was money well spent for the time it would have taken me to get it done.
Police departments go on runs in order of priority. A call about a robbery in progress is a higher priority than a call about an abandoned car on your street. The same goes for your to-do list. What are the high priority things on your list? Get those done first. If they are all as equally important, get some of the smaller things done first to clear up a bit of your list. Seeing things crossed off your to-do list energizes your brain to keep going. It’s getting in the rhythm and doesn’t want to stop. Let it keep up that rhythm by getting more done.
1. Make Lists: Lists are wonderful things to keep your brain on track. By crossing out or checking off what you accomplished, it gives your brain a mental boost to show it things are getting done. It’s almost like getting through a long book you are reading. The bookmark shows you how much progress you made and the list with crossed off tasks does the same. It shows you there is light at the end of the tunnel and you are getting closer to victory.
There are times I handwrite lists out. I find that makes my brain engage a little more because I have to take some effort to make the list and keep track of it. Other times I make a list on my notes program on my phone. After I’m done with each task I erase it. I really like the handwritten notes better because you can see all the tasks crossed off or with a checkmark next to them. It’s rewarding to see all you got done in that day, week, month or year.
“I’m going to write a wonderful quote about procrastination tomorrow or maybe next week.” – John Pullum
2. Accountability Partner: Having an accountability partner can also help with getting things done. With them checking in on you, you’ll be sure to keep on track so you don’t disappoint them. You will also be checking in on them to make sure they are accomplishing what they set out to do.
As mentioned before, there are many things that happen throughout the day that can draw our attention away from a goal / task. Our brains like to get away from the tedious things it knows we have to do. It looks for things that keeps it entertained and tries to pull us away from our goals. It’s OK to take a mini break from time to time while working on a project, but give yourself a set time limit to get right back to it. Don’t let those shiny objects draw your total attention away from your goals.
3. Reward Yourself: Reward yourself for getting things done. This could be as simple as not going to your favorite coffee shop or restaurant until you get X done. Your procrastination filled brain will try it’s best to pull you away from your to-do list and loose focus. If your brain realizes you are putting off things that you like to do until it lets you finish the task at hand, it will help motivate your mind to stay focused and get things done. Once you get the large task done make sure you go out for that great cup of coffee or a nice dinner for your reward. Give your brain a little pat on the back by rewarding yourself.
When I’m hired for my motivational entertainment at corporate events my clients often want me to teach their sales team how to focus on their goals better. I help them visualize a goal during my presentation, have them try to accomplish it and see how they do. I use some of my subconscious power of suggestion techniques and give their minds a little pep talk and have them try the same task again. They usually do 30-50% better at the same task just after the mini pep talk.
Imagine how well you’ll do with following through on your goals and tasks if you focus your mind on them even more. You have the ability to get things done, if you set your mind to it. Your mind will try to wander off, but you need to rein it back in with the tools like making lists and having an accountability partner. That way your brain knows you are keeping tabs on it.
Don’t put things off. Life is too short to let things slip away. Figure out what you can do and what you can delegate. To quote Larry the Cable Guy “Get ‘er done!”.
If you need help getting your employees focused on achieving their goals, let me know. I’d love to work with you.