Ah yes, our old friend, procrastination. Thief of time, wrecker of careers, mother of painful regret:
‘If only I’d…’
We’re here again because, once you’ve fixed your goals and deadlines,
you’ve got to make them stick: as emphasised in recent newsletters! So let’s identify the enemy.
Today, tomorrow, sometime, never is how procrastination works. Something needs doing today (ha-ha!) but you delay until tomorrow (maybe) or sometime (likelier) hoping that, magically, you’ll never need to do it (fat chance).
We all do this to some degree, although we’re mostly adult enough to know we’re fooling ourselves. So please don’t tell me, ‘Procrastination is a sign of genius; look at Leonardo da Vinci’.
Why not? Two reasons: (1) Leonardo was troubled by his procrastinating, and (2) you’re (probably) no Leonardo.
Remedies can be indicated by pinpointing causes, and in the case of procrastination causes can be as serious as depression or attention deficit disorder. With particular relevance to recent newsletters, however, causes include a lack of clear goals, poor prioritising and a collapse of willpower arising from misplaced perfectionism. The following are also common.
- Weak motivation.
- Lack of skills.
- Poor time management.
- Low energy or poor health.
- Fear of the task, its consequences, even of success.
- Addiction to last-minute adrenalin rushes.
- A delusion that procrastination endears you to others.
- A further delusion that you work better that way.
- You’re buried by jobs only you can do.
In the last-mentioned instance, you could simply train someone else. But consider too the following solutions.
- ‘Just get the file out’ is an approach I recommend and use.
- Just make an easy start. Need to do the washing-up? Just run the tap – and suddenly you’ve finished the job!
- Compile a ‘for and against’ list, itemising the risks and consequences involved in not doing a job.
- Impose a deadline on yourself and offer yourself a reward for meeting it.
- De-chunk the tasks you have on. Break them down into segments and get some of the simpler boxes ticked right away!
- Go public. Tell people you’re going to do it and so commit yourself.
- Avoid procrastinators like the plague!
And remember: whatever the activity, if you do it today and you enjoy it, you can do it again today and double your fun!