Procrastination is a negative playground of unrealised potential. Some researchers see the activity as poor self-management, others believe it is avoidance of perceived failure and there are some who see procrastination as instant gratification.
There are many successful procrastinators as history can attest. I think we can agree Mozart, Bill Clinton or the Dalai Lama wouldn’t mind kicking the habit to the curb. If you’re struggling to meet deadlines or find you’ve been putting off becoming the Prime Minister of Australia, here are three segments to help you manage procrastination.
Realise the goal
Suddenly finding oneself working from home can mean you lose sight of the reason to work. It can be hard to see work goals, and attribute positive meaning to them. Working from home likely means you are surrounded by meaningful family, activities, or possessions in your life. Work can pale in comparison.
Remind yourself why work is important. Is it career progression or are you saving for a house, a boat or early retirement? Print out a picture of your goal and keep it front and centre in your home office.
Prioritise and plan
To avoid avoidance, it can be useful to breakdown daunting goals into smaller workable objectives. This has three benefits:
- Firstly, it reduces or removes the fear of failure which can cause you to avoid even starting and lead you to google for hours.
- Secondly, by creating mini SMART goals you’ve just created yourself a workable plan to which you can hold yourself accountable.
- Finally, smaller goals mean you’ll be achieving more objectives. This takes advantage of our brain’s positive reinforcement wiring which will release dopamine when we hit a goal (the feel-good neurotransmitter). In summary, you’ll find yourself more organised, less likely to deviate from your plan and feel better for it.
Rewards and motivation
Avoid instant gratification. Creating small rewards for yourself when you complete a goal is useful to create incentive and acknowledge your accomplishments. It adds to the motivation to get jobs done.
Some people, and by people I mean procrastinators, get into the trap of taking their reward prior to completing their goal. This is a self-perpetuating destructive cycle which leads to one panicking at the last minute to meet their deadlines. If you fall into this trap, try reducing the size of the rewards to a cup of coffee, a piece of fruit or a quick call to a colleague.
There are a multitude of tools available to the avid procrastinator or if you haven’t made the first step of acknowledging your addiction, the Google/Facebook/Instagram/Tiktok user. If you find yourself tapping away too much on your phone or browsing the web, then consider downloading a piece of software to prevent and/or hold you accountable.
StayFocusd – Set your daily time allowance for non-productive sites. Once your time expires, you won’t be able to access it for the remainder of the day.
Toggle – Track how much time you’re being productive out of your eight hour work day, or in some cases, your 12 – 14 hour work day.
RescueTime – Essentially combining Stayfocusd and Toggle. If you’re a workaholic and are prone to burnout, this is a useful tool for you.
Create a home office
Working on your laptop sitting on your couch, feet resting on an ottoman while only 10 feet from the fridge is more than likely going to result in bad behaviour.
Setting up a home office has many advantages for your productivity, your health and working while being in the family home. Read the API’s blog post on How to Setup a Home Office.
They’ve become all the rage the past few years and are based on the law of attraction; if you dream or visualise it enough, manifestation occurs. A vision board is a collage of how you want to feel and the desires of your life. However, there are numerous research papers which show vision boards actually give you a false sense of accomplishment. They increase happiness but actually diminish results.
If you merge the philosophy of a vision board with the planning step above, you get an action board of your SMART goals. This is a great guide to realising your goals with lovely reminders of how this makes you feel. What actions do you need to make your super yacht a reality?
Good old-fashioned post–it notes. Perfect to write down little reminders to make good decisions.
- “Finish writing that article on procrastination before going to the freezer for more ice cream”
- “You get to make a coffee after you’ve cleared your inbox”
- “What are you DOING?”
A lot of life is made available to us through time. Those happy moments, the sad ones and those awe-inspiring unforgettable ones. A lot of life can be affected by procrastination, overcoming it isn’t done in an instant. It takes persistence and keeping yourself in check. If reading this has taken you 10 minutes or 5 hours due to googling ‘do vision boards really diminish results?’, congratulations on your start to getting more time.
Andrew Milne – Member Services Manager (QLD)
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