Procrastination is inevitable. There are tasks we must complete that are entirely necessary and sometimes vital, but not fun. Doing the dishes, dealing with tedious emails, research and big projects – sometimes you just don’t feel like it. I tend to go into 3 year old brat mode, screaming in my head “I’m a grown up and I don’t have to if I don’t wanna!!! No one can make me – so there!” Well isn’t that just the issue, no one is making you do anything, which leaves all the more room for whatever you are putting off to get pushed even deeper into the proverbial corner. That doesn’t actually help you or solve the problem though.
Everyone has tricks for ending procrastination once it starts, but I try to nip it in the bud. I find it colossally difficult to bust out once procrastination sets in, so I turn my energy to preventing it in the first place.
I truly believe if you keep putting something off there is a real possibility it is not sitting right with you somewhere in your psyche. If you have been asked to do something that is not right or not in alignment with your vision and the direction a particular project is moving, you may put that something at the bottom of the heap with excuses like “I need to set aside a chunk of time for that” or “that needs research.” When I hear that in my brain (I apparently have a healthy dialog going on with myself at all times) I try to stop and ask myself honestly what the real problem is. Do I disagree with the direction of the assignment? Feel that somehow I’ve been stuck with someone else’s work when I have plenty of my own? There is usually a reason that is beyond my own laziness or wimpyness. Figure out what it is that is making the task insurmountable and unapproachable and talk to your colleagues or team leader about your concerns. More often than not they will appreciate your feedback, thoughtfulness and new conclusions. If they don’t you may need to find a job where your thoughts and concerns are heard and valued. When I am putting off doing something for BSLM and take the time to stop to ask myself why, I almost always learn something new or remember something very valuable about our company. These moments have become invaluable.
Other times there is absolutely nothing wrong inherently with the task you are putting off, you just hate it, don’t want to do it and would rather be doing anything else. For me, hands down, this task is the bi-weekly LMP payment and invoicing for BSLM. I have a great system in place, at this point it’s almost mindless – but I dread it. About a month ago I decided I just could not keep on dreading the fifteenth and last day of each month. For two days leading up to the dreadful 15th and 30th I would spend precious time and energy hating it. What a waste! Processing this information is a necessary reality and I just needed to get over it. I told myself to shut the #%*%$& up, and just do it. Didn’t work.
Then I decided to take my own advice and some from the wonderful Erin Jerozal, and figure this thing out. I knew I had to make the process more fun for myself – just HAD to. There had to be SOME way to make this tedious yucko process somewhat enjoyable and rewarding. I also decided I needed to make it a ritual, replete with tradition and ceremony. I blocked off the evenings of the 15th and last day of each month on my calendar so I knew I had an appointment with myself. When the time came I went in with a positive mindset. I made a cup of hot cocoa, made sure my desk was clear of everything else awaiting my attention to minimize distraction, took out all of the supplies I would need to complete my task so I would be ready for each succeeding step, put on my favorite album of the moment and closed the door. Without rushing (I knew I had set aside the time), without interruption (door closed to cats and husband), without distraction (desk cleared), I took my time, completed my task …. And didn’t hate it. As much.
The fact of the matter is there will always be tasks you like less than others. The trick is figuring out why. Once you know why you dislike the task, you have all of the tools you need to fix the situation, or at the very least, figure out how to push through.
Thanks to a Facebook follower who asked me to address this issue! Post your questions in the comments or to our Facebook page and we will blog it out!
Post authored by Brooke Stone