Almost every person alive procrastinates at one time or another; it’s human nature. But for some people, procrastination can be extremely damaging to both their professional and personal well-being. In business particularly, procrastination can keep progress and success from ever happening. Our business consulting and business coaching experts often cite procrastination as one of the hardest obstacles for business owners to overcome. So why do we procrastinate, and how can we control it?
First let’s look at the why. Most of us procrastinate for two reasons; either we believe that the task at hand is too large for us to tackle, or it’s simply something we find unpleasant to do. You have to understand why you have a procrastination issue before you can figure out how to overcome it.
Here are some ways you can tame this time-sucking monster:
Shrink the task. When a task seems too large or overwhelming, it often helps to break it down into smaller pieces. There’s an old proverb that’s always good to remember. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” Sometimes once we’ve started on a small piece of the project, we build a momentum that takes over and we continue on to the finish.
Know it. Make sure you have all the information relevant to the task. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed because of the way something sounds to us, when in fact, it isn’t actually that way at all. For example, you feel overwhelmed if you think you have to take inventory and wait on customers at the same time, when in fact, extra help has been brought in to handle the customers so you can focus on getting the task completed.
Plan. Once you have all the information, draw up a plan of action for getting the task completed. This way you can see the steps you need to take and check them off to monitor your progress.
Set a goal. Some past procrastinators say that setting a deadline helps them to beat procrastination. Getting focused on the deadline drives them to complete the task.
Visualize. Some people are motivated to get the job done by visualizing all the benefits that will come from completing the project.
Grit your teeth. Try to do those things that you least like right away. Chances are you have to do them eventually anyway so why not get them done and out of the way.
Reward yourself. Promise yourself some type of reward for completing the project. For a large project, write breaks into your plan and give yourself something special each time you reach one of those breaks.
Understand consequences. Identify the disadvantages of not completing the task at hand and ask yourself if you are willing to live with them.
The first real step in conquering procrastination is recognizing it as a part of your personality. Try to determine what your procrastination triggers are and work to avoid them. It will undoubtedly take effort to change a habit as strong as procrastination can be, but stay determined! Your life will be all the better for it!
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