Let’s talk a bit about procrastination. If we’re not careful, procrastination can really be a buzz kill for our productivity. No matter how productive I am, I still find myself procrastinating certain tasks, and I finally spent a bit of time thinking through why I do this.
I’ve learned that I procrastinate in a few of very specific scenarios.
- I procrastinate when I don’t really want to do something. If I’m dreading a task, I push it to the bottom of the list. A coworker once suggested to “eat the ugliest frog first.” (For the record, I do understand this concept. However I had never, ever heard this saying that he insisted was common.) Nonetheless, I can definitely see the benefit in knocking out the things you don’t want to do first. Instead, I tend to put them off and rush through them at the last minute.
- I procrastinate when I don’t feel confident in a task. If I don’t feel like I’m good at a certain thing or that I can handle a task with ease and proudness, I will almost always put it off. We all have specific skill sets and most likely we tend to gravitate towards doing the things we’re best at while avoiding others. I’ve noticed that some items I procrastinate are the ones that I don’t feel confident in.
- I procrastinate with things I shouldn’t be doing. If I notice something lingering on my to-do list, it likely means that it’s something that I’ll never do. Either I need to find a way to delegate that task or I need to admit that it’s something that’s not important. It could be a task that isn’t important to my bottom line. It could be an idea that I’m not committed to. Either way, if it’s been on my agenda for days or weeks, I likely need to either delegate the task or just get rid of it.
Spend a bit of time thinking about why you procrastinate. Can you see a correlation in the items that you tend to put off? It’s important to explore and understand the actual reasons why we avoid certain tasks. In doing so, you can adjust and find ways to compensate. After discovering the reason behind it, you can easily adjust and do one of two things. First, you can find someone to help you with the things you don’t really want or need to do. (Most likely they’ll be better at it anyway.) Second, if you determine that it’s something you don’t actually need to do, you can free yourself of unnecessary stress and guilt over continually not doing something. My general rule of thumb is that if something shows up on my list three consecutive days without being done, then I either need to delegate it or just move on from it.
Do I always have such a tight, realistic grasp on my to-do list? Not quite. However, I do regularly have honest conversations with myself when I avoid something or a task lingers. In doing so, it helps me stay more relaxed and productive. What sorts of things do you tend to procrastinate? Can you admit that you shouldn’t actually be doing those things or find someone to help you with them? My avoided tasks usually have a commonality among them. If you can see the common factor in what you avoid, you can easily move past it.
Let’s kick procrastination to the curb!
Related: read more about how I manage my to-do list here.