“Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say, it’s all right!”
– George Harrison
March 19 marks the first day of spring—what are you looking forward to? Spring vacation? Farmers markets? Craft projects, spring cleaning, or time outdoors? Spring offers us the promise of summer, sunshine, beaches and lakes, and barbecues. The fresh air and sunshine can also offer motivation, and the push to stay on track and stop procrastinating.
Wikipedia defines procrastination as the “act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority.” If you’re procrastination prone, you’re in good company. There are many reasons we procrastinate: doubt, avoidance, limited time, distractions, or lack of motivation and resources.
Many people actually procrastinate by keeping busy! Technology has enabled us to work beyond the physical boundaries of our office. Email, voicemail, texts and other electronic media enter our home. The boundary between work and personal life gets blurred. But it’s not about the hours we work, it is what gets done that truly matters. As workers, we must actually slow down and focus on being productive rather than just busy.
Want to Stop Procrastinating?
If you find yourself procrastinating on one or several projects, take a minute to analyze the cause of the delay. Below are a few “procrastination busters” to assist you in accomplishing what you need to do both personally and professionally.
Eat a Frog for Breakfast!
As Mark Twain professed, Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. There is never a shortage of distractions in your day. If you make your to-do list and focus on the “frogs” first—the hardest things to get done—you’ll watch your productivity soar. Ribbit!
Break it Down
Focus on what you need to achieve and outline the action steps. Next, schedule them in your calendar—in pen! Write it down and commit to making it happen.
Just do it!
Set your timer for 20 minutes and get started. Once you are in your flow, you will be unstoppable!
“When the ‘why’ is strong enough, the ‘how’ becomes easy.” Ask yourself what the purpose of the project or task is. Why are you doing this? When you remember what it means in the bigger picture, you will be motivated to stop procrastinating and see it through.
Just Say No to Perfect
We often procrastinate when we fear we cannot complete a project perfectly. This fear stops us from even starting. Are you a perfectionist? Focus on progress versus perfection. Once you have started things can be edited or refined. Or they can just be good enough to be done with. Enough said.
Record your goals in a journal, computer file or on a piece of paper where you can see them. Place them on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, desk, or wherever you’ll see them regularly. Check them off when you complete them. As you visibly track your accomplishments, this will motivate you to keep going strong. This post has some great tips for setting goals you’ll actually follow through with.
No life is perfect. There will be situations that will occur and cause you to divert from your tasks. It can be as simple as an unexpected visit from a friend or as challenging as a personal or family emergency. Plan for detours by preserving unscheduled time (white space) in your calendar. But be mindful of needless distractions that rise throughout your day like a game of “whack a mole.”
Complete a timesheet for one month. You can track your time in 15, 30 or 60-minute intervals. What are you spending your time on? Now you’ll have data. If you notice lengthy phone calls, email overload, or too much water cooler chit chat, alter your habits.
Got it done? Have some fun!
Once you complete a project or you have made some traction on it, reward yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, celebrate in a way that works for you.
The reality is, you don’t have time to procrastinate now or later! Embrace spring, welcome support from others, work smart, and keep track of your completed goals, big and small. Stay motivated to make progress on your top priorities so that you can thrive and truly celebrate this spring.
Gail Lowney Alofsin is the Director of Corporate Partnership & Community Relations for Newport International Boat Show/Newport Restaurant Group. An adjunct professor at the University of RI and Salve Regina University, author, speaker and volunteer, Gail lives in Newport, Rhode Island. Looking for a speaker to inspire and educate your team? Contact Gail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gail’s business and personal development book, Your Someday is NOW! What Are YOU Waiting For? has raised over $42,000 for non-profit organizations. Gail enjoys eating bullfrogs for breakfast – sprinkled with a few tadpoles! Ribbit!