There seems to be more advice on how to avoid procrastination and improve time management than we could possibly take in, but they can still remain a problem.
There are many reasons for procrastination – from tiredness to fear, lack of motivation and boredom – and getting to the cause is a good idea. Why do I put off doing something?
I think solutions need to be personal. Not every suggestion will work for every person, so we have to find out what works for each of us.
Here’s how I try to remedy procrastination:
1. If I’m trying to complete a task but can see I’m not getting anywhere, I do something else for a short while. If tiredness is the reason, going for a short walk or even just outside in the fresh air for a few minutes can refresh me. I find taking regular breaks helps me to work more productively through the day so that I don’t waste time sitting at my desk putting off what I had planned to do.
2. If I feel overwhelmed by my to-do list, I like to do small admin tasks for a few minutes so that I can see I’ve completed a couple of items and made progress. I’m not keen on admin, so I feel good to know that filing, accounts or other tasks have been completed and I have time for what I want to do.
3. If I really have a block, such as not being able to write, I do something for pleasure, such as read or listen to music for a short while. Time is valuable and if I can’t work productively, then at least I can make use of it by enjoying it. Reading, music and similar activities are good for the mind and body, so I am not wasting time but spending it on doing something valuable.
4. I am lucky to be able to work flexibly and can arrange most days so that I work when I want to. Sometimes I am not firing in the mornings, but find my concentration increases in the afternoons and evenings. As long as I am not over-working, I don’t mind when I work.
5. Sometimes I can put off doing something because I am scared of failing. This took me quite a long time to resolve, but I have come to realise that failure is a part of life and that we have to expect it on occasion. I get over this by doing as much preparation as I can for anything I do and not pinning my hopes on one thing. I find this approach enables me to get on with tasks that seem daunting. This is probably one of the the most difficult aspects of procrastination to remedy and the one requiring the most personal approach, as each of us has different fears. However, if you do confront these fears, you will be able to progress in what they are stopping you from doing.
I have learnt that time is our most valuable commodity and that the worst thing possible is to waste it. Sometimes we are not in the right frame of mind or do not have the energy to do what we planned and I re-organise my day so that I do get into the right frame of mind and do get my energy back.
The worst thing is to waste time on daytime TV, surfing the web or social media networks aimlessly. Doing nothing, i.e. dreaming, is not necessarily a waste of time as it can lead to new ideas, nor is spending time doing something you enjoy.
My aim is to be pleased at what I have done with my time when I look back over my day.
Do you procrastinate? What is your approach to dealing with it?