March 1st, 2015

30 Day Behaviour Change Challenge – Day 5 – 9 Ways to Beat Procrastination

Shining a light on solutions to procrastination.

Shining a light on solutions to procrastination.

Are you busy? It seems a strange question in this day and age where we can fill every spare minute with online activity. Are you one of the info-junkies, re-loading the news 10 times a day, maybe you check facebook and instagram for the latest uploads and when all else fails browse blogs and the online shopping sites? Do you feel anxious when you are ‘off-grid’ and unable to connect? It is not only the thoughts and feelings, see Day 1 Values and Day 2 Mindchatter, that determine our ability to change our behaviours but our actions. Today let’s examine why you procrastinate and what you can do to fix it.

What tasks have been on your list forever? When I work with my coaching clients, procrastination is a regular topic of conversation. It works out most of the tasks we procrastinate about are:

  • BHAGS – Big Hairy Audacious GoalS ones that appear insurmountable,
  • Items where we don’t have skills or knowledge, or
  • Actions that don’t give us energy, ie things we don’t want to do.

So let’s look at each of these and 9 ways to beat procrastination

1.         Programme – Try programming the task from beginning to end, what comes first, then next, work through the bigger task breaking it into ‘baby-steps’.

2.         Delegate – Delegate to others, hire help through any number of sites that can help with everything from washing the dog to writing a novel. Your job will then be to look at the quality of the work, make the appropriate links and keep momentum going.

3.         Blocks of Time – If you don’t have the resources to delegate, try working at a task for a small amount of time, some people say 15 minutes, there are apps that set egg timers for 20 minute blocks, Neil Fiore, author of “The Now Habit” suggest 30 minute blocks. Most people can do focused work for a minimum of 30 minutes.

4.         Turn off your distractors – I don’t mean your children or workmates. If you constantly distract yourself with online surfing, use one of many programmes to turn off your access for periods of time. Another good tip is to execute your phone messages and emails in a block of time rather than scattered throughout the day.

5.         Schedule Work Blocks – These blocks can be scheduled at the beginning of the day when you are fresh and more open to tackling a difficult task.

6.         Work with an expert – Talk through the task with someone more skilled. Ask lots of questions, take notes or make diagrams to help. Employ a coach, ask a Manager for help or engage a professional such as a Lawyer or Accountant.

7.         Self Learning  – Look at a Youtube clip on “howto do…’ There is an infinite array of people who have made handy videos for you. Write a query to a website that specializes in the topic. Often the questions have been asked before. Do it the old fashioned way and read a book on the topic.

8.         Find a class – Community Learning Centres offer courses in a range of activities.

What about those tasks that we really don’t want to do. In a previous blog (Day 4- Energy Vampires) we talked about those activities that take energy from us, leaving us depleted and unable to then spend effort on those things we want to do. These feelings are individual, for example, some people get joy from cleaning others see it as a waste of time.

Many of the ideas above will work for you but there is one that is designed to give you the energy to tackle this situation.

9.         Schedule the tasks you love first and then complete the unwanted ones around that. If you do the wanted tasks first, it should give you abundant energy and motivation to carry you through the unwanted task or at least a ‘work block of time’ spent on it.

There is a saying “Procrastination is the thief of time” and so it is. We will not get the required momentum  to make behaviour changes without tackling this issue.

Task 1: Work through your ‘todo’ list and match one of the items to some of the strategies above. Give yourself a strict timeframe to take the first action and find someone to hold you accountable.