From Distraction to Action

The problem of procrastination is something which most people suffer from, to a greater or lesser extent:

Last week, I came across a situation where someone was just not doing what they knew they could be doing to achieve their major 2016 business goal. Procrastination was the chief culprit, and it still infects so many people in business.

This week already someone has asked me for a couple of quick tips to help her overcome procrastination, and I thought worthy of sharing:

>  1.  The Power of Reason… when you look back at a goal you have achieved it’s often because the reason was so strong (and not always a rational reason… sometimes purely emotive, but a reason all the same). Reasons = Motives to Action (Motiv-Action). Focus on your reason for the goal, and then take action.

>  2.  Be aware of distractions and do everything possible to remove them… having a clear area to work from, for example.
Take time to get organised. Get rid of all the clutter that may be distracting you.

>  3.  Set a ground-rule for the most obvious distractions: emails; check them at specific time slots, not every three minutes, as some people do. Telephone interruptions: don’t take unimportant calls when working on the most important things.

>  4.  Have a Golden Hour set aside every day when you will just focus on the most important tasks, and when you are “un-disturbable”.

>  5.  Begin your day the night before: schedule your next day, with an action plan.

>  6.  Honour your personal work style… when are you at your most energetic? When are you at your most creative?

>  7.  Schedule time by blocks, not tasks. Allocate a specific amount of time to a task, and then move on… don’t get bogged down.

>  8.  Ask yourself, “if not now, when?”

>  9.  Ask yourself, “If I HAD to do it, what would I do?”

>  10.  WIFO principle: worst in, first out. So tackle those tasks you are most likely to procrastinate on first. Many people spend more time worrying about doing / not doing the tasks than actually getting on with them.

>  11.  Schedule a Self organisation session (SOS) every week to clear away the little tasks so they don’t get in the way during the focus days of the rest of the week.

>  12.  Enlist the support of others… delegate to others’ strengths.

>  13.  Take a small easily manageable step. Identify one small initial step to get the task up and running. So, if you have a report to write and it seems a bit daunting, set aside an hour just to plan the outline, and gather the notes / data you need. The task will suddenly seem more manageable.

>  14.  Ask yourself: “What happens if this never gets done?” It might be that you are worrying about something that actually isn’t a priority, so ditch it!

>  15.  Set a reward for doing the task.

>  16.  If you become aware that you are procrastinating or being distracted (that rising sense of guilt in your gut-feeling, that you know you should be doing something else), immediately stop doing the distraction. Take a ten second breather and relax. Then ask “If Not Now, When?” If you aren’t going to do the important item now, when are you going to do it?

>  17.  Don’t beat yourself up about procrastination… solve it instead. Most people expend more negative energy worrying about the fact that they are procrastinating, than it would take positive energy to just get on and do it.

>  18.  Prioritise… ask “Does this attach to my goals and objectives?”

>  19.  Turn it round… we are often distracted from one thing because we get sidetracked into doing something easier / nicer. Turn it round and allow yourself to only do the easy / nice thing as a reward for doing the thing you were almost distracted from.

>  20.  Play a film in your head of how ridiculous you look sitting there procrastinating. Add comedy music, tell yourself it’s completely silly, and then just do it.

>  21.  Have a model person who you admire (someone you would think of as exceptionally professional) and imagine how they would just get on with the task you are procrastinating over.

>  22.  Identify the real barrier stopping you from taking action. Is it something that always gets in the way… is this task something you always struggle to do? It could be Fear, lack of Confidence, lack of certainty over how to do it, something which is not your strength, or poor organisation. Once you have identified the Blocker, you can go Blockbusting, or find a way around it.

>  23.  Picture the task completed. Imagine how you will feel to have achieved it. Focus on how you will feel when you have finished… and what the finished result will look like (eg. For a salesperson suffering from “call reluctance”, create a mental image of a full diary… how great will that feel, to have all those productive meetings booked in).

>  24.  Create some energy. Go for a walk around the block… Be careful though, and make sure you are not just doing this to avoid getting on with it!!