Putting Things Off - Part II

Frank Newberryin Training & Education

If you have already managed to read Part 1 of this article, you will probably know by now if you are 1) deadline-driven, 2) event-oriented, 3) a sensation-seeking procrastinator - or all three! In Part 2 of this article, Grounds Care Trainer and Conference Speaker Frank Newberry offers ten ways we can all reduce our tendency to procrastinate.

Ten Ways to Reduce Procrastination

You may be pleased to learn that many psychologists say procrastination is not about laziness. It is not about avoiding work. Rather, it is about avoiding feelings. Negative feelings brought about by things like anxiety, fear of failure or a lack of confidence.

Procrastination, therefore, has a helpful short-term function. Its purpose is mood regulation (by that I mean you regulating your mood). If you put off doing a task that is worrying you and you do something else instead (called a displacement activity) - voilà, your mood will change. Pressure gone! For the time being at least.

Regulate our mood regulator

What we perhaps need to do is regulate our mood regulator. We can do this by deliberately not giving difficult people or tricky tasks the power to alter our mood. The next time someone does something that upsets you or puts you in a mood - check whether you gave this undeserving person the power to change your mood.

Over the years, I have gradually managed to adjust a tendency I sometimes have - the tendency to feel victimised or persecuted by others, e.g. some bosses, some colleagues and certain customers. I have reduced the number of people I now give this power to, i.e. the power to hurt my confidence or my feelings. Now it is only the people I love that have this power and, in some cases, I am working on reducing their power event further! It is good to feel more in control of my reactions to challenging people and situations.

From a starting point of feeling good about your skills

So, from a starting point of feeling good about your skills and abilities and being in control of your mood, let us look at ten ways to reduce any tendency you might have to put things off.

Ten Ways to Reduce Procrastination

1. Schedule important and demanding tasks into your 'prime time'

Your prime time in the day being when you feel energised and resilient. You may be a 'morning' person or an 'afternoon' person, or even an 'all day' person! Schedule demanding tasks accordingly. Take control of your own 'quality' time.

2. Put boring and repetitive tasks into your 'down time' of the day

Your 'down time' in the day being when you feel slow or prone to distraction. A 'morning' person might feel slower after lunch, or later in the afternoon. An 'afternoon' person may have to build up their resources during the morning. So, schedule the less demanding and more mundane work tasks into your down time.

3. 'Salami' technique

Simply plan a big undertaking or job by slicing it into 'thinner', easier tasks. Place them into a sequence and start at the beginning. Commend yourself for completing each smaller task and then move on to the next one.

4. Five Minute Plan

Devote five minutes only to that task you are avoiding starting on. This technique can eliminate your inertia and get you going on the task.

5. Leading Task

One thing you could do in the first five minutes (in 4 above) is to identify and do the first part of the overwhelming task.

6. Balance Sheet

For those stubborn, resistant tasks that you perhaps put back all the time, why not list reasons for, and reasons against getting started? Look for any faulty thinking and make a step-by-step plan of attack on the task.

7. Journal Technique

For your own learning - keep a record of your progress (or lack of) with the tasks you tend to procrastinate.

8. Go Public

Do not shame yourself but tell everyone at work that you are now doing the tasks you have been putting off.

9. Worst First

Rank all the tasks that you are putting off - and do the worst first.

10. Written Reminders

Leave notes for yourself at home and at work - to keep you focused on starting and finishing those tricky tasks.

Finally, we do well to remember that procrastination - if not addressed - will have an unnecessary negative impact on the quantity and the quality of the work we do. I wish you success with this - we do not want to put that off.

© 2020 Frank Newberry

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