“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” This famous quote is attributed to American statesman Thomas Jefferson – and it’s a rule that must have worked for him, as he managed to write the country’s Declaration of Independence and become a state governor, Vice President and finally the third President of the United States.
But while Jefferson’s advice may be sound, it’s difficult to follow in today’s multi-tasking, fast-paced world. Many of us juggle so many priorities that it’s tempting to put things off until the last minute in our efforts to keep up with our work without losing our minds. However, procrastination can result in even more unnecessary stress if it happens too often so here are a few ways to kick this bad habit.
1. Whenever possible, don’t multi-task
When you’re performing multiple tasks at once, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re doing and end up with tasks only partially completed. Try to focus on one task at a time until it is finished before moving on to the next; so you’ll have no excuse for leaving something unfinished that you’ll have to come back to later.
2. Modify your environment to eliminate distractions
E-mails, ringing telephones and chatting colleagues all provide convenient excuses for not getting work done. It’s so easy to say, “Well, I’ll do it right after I send this e-mail,” and then put off the task that needs to be done. So keep distractions to a minimum: only run applications you must use to complete a given task, isolate yourself from outside conversations, and turn off your phone. Even close your e-mail client if it helps you stay focused!
3. Set a timer
many of us put off unpleasant tasks it’s simply human nature. To help make boring chores more palatable, tell yourself you’ll only do the activity for a set amount of time say ten or 15 minutes. After ten minutes, if you want to stop working, you can. Interestingly, if you give yourself permission to stop after ten minutes, you may find the momentum carries you along and you’ll keep working anyway.
4. Reward yourself
Give yourself a bit of positive motivation to get things done. Tell yourself that once you’ve completed your task, you can go out to lunch with your colleagues. Or set up one-hour blocks of time where you focus entirely on work, followed by a fifteen-minute break with a favourite cup of tea. It doesn’t have to be a particularly grand reward, simply something that gives you a boost. You might even think of the relief you’ll feel once the task is completed that’s usually a reward in itself!
5. Make it as simple as you can
when starting a task that you’ve been putting off, the most important point is just to get started. Don’t pay attention to the details right away, just focus on making a start. For example, if you need to prepare a report, just begin by writing down the most important points first. Don’t worry about formatting it properly or finding the right words, just get it written down. This is a much less stressful and intimidating way to begin, especially for larger, complex projects.
While procrastination may be difficult to overcome, the strategies above can help you keep yourself on track. And don’t forget to be kind to yourself hard work deserves “downtime”, so be sure you’re not working so hard that you’re burning out. Coming to work refreshed and rested can be the best preventative measure against procrastination.
Source : hp newsletter