Procrastination is something that most people have faced at some point in their lives. For some reason, we as humans struggle to avoid things that are unpleasant. We delay the inevitable, especially when it’s unpalatable. And we even do the same procrastination techniques when there is an issue or event that is really important to us — even if it’s something critical. But has there been a proven method to stop procrastination?
Around 20 percent of people identify themselves as procrastinators.
The problem may be that we’re lying to ourselves, or maybe we are not aware or have no idea how long a task will actually take to accomplish. Nowadays there are many studies to help people with procrastination. You could also, just start timing yourself to see how long a task will take. Write your times on your calendar and try and get faster and faster each day.
In a university student study there were two different groups of college students. These two groups were told to have three papers due in three weeks. What was learned about procrastination?
Group one: could turn in their papers at anytime during the three weeks.
Group two: had to turn in daily and weekly scheduled pieces of information for these papers. At the end of the allotted three week time period, the students in group one who were required to hand in a little bit each day and had strict deadlines, got all the work done. Everyone of them had the work done and all of the work was quality work.
Group one: were the ones who were able to have the entire freedom of choice of when to hand in the work and at what speed. Every single person in that group failed to get the work completed. The pieces of the work that had any part of it done, were done at a substandard level.
This study tells us that we are not really good at determining how much time a task will take. We don’t figure out quickly enough when things should be done, nor are we very good at regulating ourselves.
The solution seems to lie somewhere in a place where we have to be more strict with ourselves in order to perform how we would wish. This same solution holds true if you are managing a team whom you need to keep motivated to get their work done.
One quick fix to procrastination, is to trick yourself into getting your work done.
Many people say things like “eat the elephant one step at a time.” Well, that was the old phrase. Now, the new and improved suggestion is, “eat the frog first thing in the morning.” Hum, pretty much the same thing, except the elephant is bigger. After you have taken a giant bite of your elephant or frog, be sure to reward yourself in some way. Small rewards along the way have proven to be a better technique than a great big massive or marvelous reward at the end.
What are are the steps that need to happen to stop procrastination and get your project done?
- Don’t keep thinking of your project as a whole elephant.
- Try to break this project down into the bite sized pieces. Really, really small.
- Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by looking at the end of the project.
- If you are one of those that gets a little down when overwhelmed, then you have an extra step in here. You definitely cannot allow your thoughts to ever go to the whole job. Just don’t.
- Keep your headspace clear for the smaller daily hustle.
The process will work the best to stop procrastination when individuals take their calendar and write in all of the steps of the project.
It is best to include all of the steps, no matter how simple, broken down into minute by minute or hour by hour instructions. Have even the tiny steps clearly visible on your calendar.
Many people will be like an ogre to their team or even to themselves. These people are mean to themselves or their team members to get work done. “You sit there until all of your veggies are eaten first.” If you act like this to yourself or to your team — your process will take a hundred times longer to finish.
You are an adult. You don’t have to force your own-self to eat the veggies first. You can have the ice cream first if you want to.
Pick the part of the project that you LOVE to do the most, and do that task first. This can stop procrastination.
Enjoy your personal processes. Maybe you like to organize every little thing, or do the artwork first. Go ahead and draw, color, write, code, think and do something wonderful.
There have been studies that have shown that people are often like their dog. The dog will go over to lie down on the rug. If the dog doesn’t circle around themselves three times, they cannot settle down to rest. Try stopping your pet from that circle mechanism, and see if this is not true. This pet cannot and will not settle until they circle around.
If you are one of the people that has to circle three times before you start your project — then get circling to stop procrastination, and get it done so you can start your work.
If you sit there and resist the circling you will become more and more unsettled and sometimes this resisting will cause you not to be able to do the job at all. I am using the word “circling” but this does not necessarily mean circling your rug or circling your desk.
Human are more likely to need to clean up their work area. Years ago in studies, many workers had to sharpen all their pencils before they could begin work. Just sharpening their pencils signaled their brains to stop procrastination.
Maybe you are one who has to clean up your work space, get a bottle of water, get your coffee, write a list and then settle into your work. You can make yourself not do this — all day long if you wish. But the quickest way for you to get to your work and get it done, is to get your circling done. Then you will easily be able jump to your work and start.
I have to wipe my keyboard and mouse with a Clorox wet wipe. The fact that I wiped everything off before I leave at night is immaterial.
Take a few days to watch really closely and see what your habits tell you that you have to do. Then — just get to that habit as early as possible — it will stop procrastination — then you’ll hop right to your work.
Next, what is it that you always succumb to at work when you should be working? What is causing your personal procrastination?
- Is it social media?
- Is it your friend calling or texting?
- Is it a treat in the kitchen at the office?
- What is calling you?
In an old Greek Mythology story, sailors were called away by these gorgeous mermaids singing to them and calling them away from their work.
These mermaids are probably on YouTube right now. You don’t want others calling you away from the work that you should be doing. Also, you don’t want to be the mermaid calling others from their work when they are busy and in the zone.
In the Greek tale, one of the sailors told everyone else on the boat to tie him to the large pole in the center of the ship so that he wouldn’t fall under the spell of the “sirens.” This guy also told all of the sailors to stuff something in their ears so they couldn’t hear the sound either, lest it stop their work. The other sailors tied him up and stopped up their own ears. The sailers were finally able to sail past YouTube without looking. Maybe it was Amazon? But either way — the sailors were able to resist what was calling them away from their work.
You can tell your friends not to call — but some still will. The best action for me is to turn off notifications.
The personally-agreed-to rules of the office at Calendar.
Here are the rules of our office:
- If you look around the office and someone has earbuds in — that means that you can approach.
- If you are ignored wait a few seconds.
- If you are still ignored — go away — the person has to finish the thought or whatever they are working on.
If the person has on noise-cancelling earphones — it means “stay the hell away.”
This has become an important distinction. We have a lively office with many visitors who we really like and we would like to talk to all day long. But because of the deadlines we are under, we had to make this hard and fast rule. It works beautifully. Also, no one is allowed to take offense if someone has on their headphones.
One thing I have personally noticed. If a person has those big headphones on, and their typing is going so fast and loud that a jet engine could be actually be taking-off — our entire office goes in to hyper-drive-work-mode. Everyone starts working so fast and intently — that it really is something to see.
As you look around your own office — ask yourself if you are the distractor? Don’t be. For myself — I call it “gluing my butt to the seat.” In this way, it guarantees that my work will be done in a timely manner.
Originally published here.