I’m declaring it official. It’s a pandemic. It cripples lives and businesses.
The problem of procrastination is something which many people suffer from, to a greater or lesser extent.
So how do you recognise the signs of Procrastination, and what is the antidote?
- An increase in waiting: “Wait Watching”… minutes, hours can slip by.
- An increase in displacement activity: Doing stuff that really doesn’t lead to the results you want.
- Capability paralysis: belief that you can do everything, therefore you should try to do everything, therefore you grind to a halt under a deluge of inconsequential activity.
- Lack of direction: likely to stumble into anything that crops up, and flounder around without knowing which way to turn. Inability to work in a straight line.
- Excessive Listing: too many lists of things to do, without ever tackling any of it.
- Foaming at the mouth: Blaming and babbling – a lot of chatter and excuses about what hasn’t been done, and why it hasn’t, rather than doing things that need to be done.
- “Chewing the Could”: talking a lot about what “could” be done. Invariably leads to indecisiveness (camouflaged as “keeping our options open”, “staying open to opportunities in times like this”, and so on).
- An increase in Static: inability to move forward on specific projects or tasks.
- Extreme Shuddering, or rather Should’a ing… as in “we shoulda done this, and we shoulda done that” and “I shoulda done this, and I shoulda done that”.
- In extreme cases (and most cases are): can cause you to Be a Gonna… one day I’m Gonna do this, one day I’m gonna do that. In the end, you are a gone-r.
Immediate Remedies: From Distraction to Action
- Be aware of distractions and do everything possible to remove them… having a clear area to work from, for example.
- Have a plan for the week, identifying the key tasks you will complete and allocating timeslots for them.
- Write a Daily Action Plan. Not a “To do list”, an Action Plan.
- If you become aware that you are procrastinating or being distracted, 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 more important item now, when are you going to do it?
- 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.
- Ask “Does this attach to my goals and objectives?”
- Turn it round… many are often distracted from one thing because they 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, lack of knowledge or skills, or poor organisation.
- Create a reward for doing the thing which you have been avoiding.
- Have a Golden Hour… an hour where you blitz all the tasks you would procrastinate over.
- Use Visualisation techniques.
- 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… see how great that will feel, to have all those productive meetings booked in).
- 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!!
- Break it down into manageable chunks…. If you are procrastinating because the task is particularly big and will take several weeks to complete, and you just can’t get started, just do a small but significant thing to start off. Maybe just make a mindmap of all the things that the project involves, and then plan in the timeslots in your diary to work on each area of the project.
- Clarity of direction. Purpose, Vision, Mission and Goals.
- Structure and Systems… make it turnkey
- Play to your strengths: Do what you do Best – SOD (Systemise or Delegate) the Rest!
- Order and Organisation – clear the clutter
- Apply the FEVER formula (Focus, Energy, Vision, Enthusiasm, Reason)
- Visualis-Action techniques; take these once per day, and see the procrastination pandemic subside, and eventually free your life from it.
- A Focused Daily Action Plan (not a ‘to do list’). No excuses.