Procrastination is the great thief of productivity. It has many causes including feeling overwhelmed, boredom, fear of failure, perfectionism, poor time management, and negative beliefs about one’s ability or self worth.
“Cyberslacking” is becoming a more common source of procrastination. Ten minutes on Facebook can turn into an hour. Checking a statistic online for work morphs into surfing the net for the latest sports update. Employers lose hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in productivity due to procrastination and cyberslacking, not to mention hidden costs associated with increased bandwidth.
There are many practical strategies you can use to overcome procrastination:
Divide and Conquer: Approach overwhelming tasks by breaking them into smaller chunks. Rather than seeing the mess on your desk as one big, insurmountable task that you might as well not even tackle, divide your desk into “zones” and start with one zone at a time. Clean out your middle desk drawer on Monday, clear off all of the paper on the top of your desk on Tuesday, organize the first ten files in the file drawer on Wednesday, etc.
Schedule time to work on a task. Block off time on your calendar to work on one of your chunks. Make it a recurring event for 5 days in a row and before you know it, the task will be completed.
Get rid of “stinking thinking.” Negative beliefs about yourself such as, “I can’t do anything right,” will get in the way of accomplishing your to do list. Replace those negative thoughts with more accurate beliefs like, “I was hired for this job because I am capable.” Keep repeating that to yourself until you believe it.
Organize your environment. If you are easily distracted by the television, remove the TV from your home office. Close your web browser while you are working on a report so you won’t be tempted to check your Facebook. Consider working in an empty conference room on a laptop if you are frequently interrupted by visitors or phone calls in your office.
Reward yourself. Give yourself a small reward when you accomplish one of your chunks and a bigger one when the entire project is completed. These little rewards along the way will help keep your motivation high. Click here to learn more about motivation and the stages of change.
Just do it! Nike was right; just get going and let your momentum build. If you wait to feel like doing something, you may never get started. Do it anyway. I tell my clients, “Pretend you did feel like doing it; what would you do first?” Then do that one small thing.
Join my 21 Day Challenge. Psychologists say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit or break an old one. I developed what I call my “21 Day Challenge” to help with that process. Check it out today and overcome procrastination now.
©2012 Peggy Mitchell Norwood, Ph.D. | All rights reserved.
Watch Dr. Peg’s interview with TaRhonda Thomas on Denver’s 9News