Procrastination is a way of handling stress. Have you ever thought of it like that? Much like any other habit, it has a trigger, an action and a result. Read on and see if this sounds familiar – you sit down at your desk to start the workday and remember the voicemail left on your machine at the end of day yesterday from an angry client wanting you to call them back. Your brain immediately goes into stress mode and decides to first check your inbox to see if anything else important is happening has come through, and before you know it, it’s your lunch break and you still haven’t tackled that important phone call.
Have you had an experience like this before? Yeah, me too. More often than not, procrastination is the response to some type of stress, and triggers us to find something else more enjoyable. The good news is that as we recognize our triggers and decide ahead of time how we’re going to handle those moments of stress we can get closer to tackling those obstacles faster and avoid the black hole of procrastination.
3-Steps To Overcoming Procrastination
Only touch it once.
I have a rule for myself in my inbox. If it takes less than 2 minutes, I respond immediately. If it’s going to take more time, I respond letting them know when I’ll get a chance to work on what they’ve asked. The key here is to only touch each email once. Either respond immediately, trash it, or put it on your calendar.
Break it into 10-minute steps.
In my experience, putting a giant task on my calendar that has 4 or more steps involved, (or worse- you don’t even know what the steps are!) tends to get procrastinated the most often because I don’t even know where to start. In situations such as these, I like to break out the steps into smaller to-do items. That way each task feels easier to tackle and gives me a faster feeling of accomplishment. If I’m not sure where to start, I’ll make that the first task – “Figure out the steps for Project X.” This helps relieve some of the stress and makes the big task easier to take action on.
Put it on your calendar
Last but certainly not least, PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR! Not only is a great way to stay organized, but it’s also a simple and free way to organize tasks by priority. My calendar is color coordinated, depending on low, medium and high priority tasks. When tasks are added to my daily calendar, I’m constantly moving them around as some things take less time, and others take longer. It’s also helpful when you do get those last minute requests to be able to quickly see everything you have on your calendar for the day and how time sensitive the task is. Oh, and if you have more than one calendar, combine them! One calendar, no confusion.
The hardest part is always the first step; in fact, we know from science that if we can just take the first step, 80% of people keep going. So make a new habit and take action right away. You’ll find you get a lot more done in the day when you start managing your time by kicking procrastination out of your everyday routine.