Q: What is worse than being on a bad carnival ride?
A: Realizing you can get off at any time, but not understanding how to stop the insanity !
Well, getting yourself out of the Procrastination Cycle requires you to first acknowledge you want it to stop & then taking ownership of the controls.
First, ask yourself an important question?
“Why do I procrastinate?”
Procrastination begins in our brains. It is driven by a variety of thoughts and habits. On a fundamental level, we avoid tasks because we believe we won’t enjoy doing them, and we want to avoid making ourselves miserable. Additionally, there may be an underlying fear that we won’t do the task well. No one enjoys screwing up & research suggests that people procrastinate more often when they are confused by the complexity of a task (such as filing one’s taxes), or when they’re distracted & busy.
The following are 5 steps to lift you out of a negative Procrastination Cycle & get you in the operators seat!
1. Break Down Monumental Projects into a Series of Little Tasks
Be a task ninja. Before letting procrastination creep into your brain… spend some time creating tasks deadlines. A major project can seem daunting in scope, and you may find yourself thinking that it will be impossible to get the entire task done by a certain deadline. The key to handling these kinds of jobs is to break them up into bite-sized, accomplishable chunks. Pick out small pieces you can get done quickly and easily to start the ball rolling! Momentum is powerful & once you get moving, the energy is palpable & can be used to get you through the job. Setting smaller goals will help you keep your focus and you will feel accomplished as you work towards your larger goal.
2. Maria Kondo Your Work Environment
The environment you choose to work in makes a difference in your productivity level. Even if you are required to work at the office, the way you organize your space and what you surround yourself with will help you maintain focus & accomplish great things. Think like Maria Kondo, an expert in tidying up and organizing. The KonMari Method stresses tidying everything on your desk at once instead of in small steps. Kondo says decluttering your entire space in one fell swoop means you’ll be less likely to revert to your old, cluttered ways. So, take inventory of your work space and & limit all potential distractions- store your personal belongs away from your workspace, and avoid keeping chachki items on your desk. Limit your workspace to the items which are necessary to accomplish work tasks. (Say Bye Bye to fidget spinners & magic 8 balls).
3. Create Personal Deadlines
Once you have set a deadline for final completion, go back and create personal due dates by breaking your project into even smaller chunks. This is called ‘back mapping’ and helps create a roadmap for reaching your completion goal. Decide, based on your schedule of work requirements when you want to have smaller tasks completed. This method will help you keep on course and have a clear measurement of your progress towards your ultimate goal.
When you are reaching your small goals, you feel more confident (thank your brain for the cortisol boost)! Make sure to take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back & congratulate yourself for sticking with your plan. When you are able to check off your targets dates, you are one step closer to accomplishing your goal!
4. Get Rid of Distractions
We discussed organizing your office space to avoid distractions in step 2, but these aren’t the only insidious time grabbers that have the potential to pull you off course. The temptation to check the news, browse the internet or check the score of your favorite sports team can quickly take you off track and off target. You also might find that socializing with co-workers might get in the way of getting your tasks complete.
The best way to decrease distractions at work is to turn them into positive reinforces. When you achieve your personal targets or make that important deadline, reinforce your positive work with a positive reward – set yourself a 10-minute timer to browse your social accounts, take a few minutes to meditate, or check in with your co-worker. By tuning out distractions, you are the master of your time.
5. Take Inventory of Unimportant Time Suckers & Avoid Them
What is it about your work that has the greatest impact on your team’s productivity, or is most important to get done today? Making sure that you are prioritizing tasks that only you can do, as well as tasks that are time sensitive. When you are looking at work that isn’t pressing or has little impact on others in the workplace, it can become all too easy to procrastinate and leave that work for later. Try using a simple tool for considering the long-term outcomes of your daily tasks and focusing on what will make you most effective.
Create an Eisenhower Matrix, which is a task management tool that helps you organize and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance. Using the tool, you’ll divide your tasks into four boxes based on the tasks you’ll do first, the tasks you’ll schedule for later, the tasks you’ll delegate, and the tasks you’ll delete.
You now have all you need to stop procrastinating
Quitting the procrastination cycle may not be easy, but the rewards are many: peace of mind, less stress, being a competent teammate & gaining agency over your time. Meeting your personal goals also means personal rewards. Grab yourself that nice iced coffee, spend a few extra minutes at the gym & give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Redefine how you operate in your work space. Here’s hoping these 5 handy ways to release procrastination from your workspace helps you lean in & accomplish your work goals on time.
Dr. Powell – Executive Functioning Expert
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