Procrastination is a huge drain of time and energy. Yet, it is something even the most highly motivated leaders succumb to. I find I tend to do it when I am beginning a new project. My story is that I’m letting my creative ideas percolate. Perhaps there is some truth to this but I’ll play devil’s advocate now and ask, how much easier and more productive would my life be if I didn’t hold this belief? What if I could just plop myself down at the start of a project and get to the work?
There are benefits I get out of procrastinating. It depends on the goal as to what purpose the procrastination is fulfilling. It can be fear of failure. If I don’t start something, then there is no chance of failing at it so it is safer not to begin. Or perhaps I’ve used my imagination to build up a task into a much larger project than it actually is by over-thinking. If that’s the case, the idea of starting is overwhelming because I feel it will take so much time and energy.
So…how do you move past the procrastination phase and jump into action? Here are my 5 Top Tips…
1. Get it out of your head and onto the page! The mind is a terrible thing to clutter. Whether you use post its, the computer or your Smart Phone, write out a list of the tasks and projects you have in play at the moment.
2. Create your Top Ten Priorities of the Week List. Before the end of each week, create a list of the ten most important things you must accomplish the next week to move your projects forward, then put an asterisk beside the top three. Don’t allow yourself to work on the other items until the top three are complete. This will keep you focused and ready to go first thing Monday morning.
3. Impose time limits on your tasks. Go through the list you made of your top ten priorities and then put reasonable time estimates on how long you believe you need to complete the task…then stick to those like they are deadlines. It is true that a task expands to fill the time allotted so be strict with yourself.
4. Create an accountability system. Most people work better with a deadline in place. Once you’ve imposed your time limits for your tasks, you need to create a way to be held accountable. Enroll someone to help you with accountability and support you.
5. Identify the underlying purpose to each task. Connecting to the core value the task is related to will help you move into warp speed, past any procrastination blocks. If your task is to finish a team meeting outline, what value will doing so embody? Perhaps you value time, then having an organized, structured approach to keep your meeting on track and save everyone attending valuable time. Aligning the task with the company mission also helps. If the company is focused on providing innovative, efficient solutions to clients, then leading a meeting that saves time and frees up team members to be able to brainstorm and think creatively aligns with the company mission. That’s much more exciting than typing up an agenda.
Changing your behavior from someone who falls into procrastination to someone who knows how to generate focus and action changes your experience and the experience of those you engage with and lead.