Blog Post Series Part 4 – Procrastination: How to Defeat the Procrastination Monster

By Rob

Productivity and time management are a key part of running a successful business. During Lynn Hunter-Murphy’s workshop on Productivity and Time Management, Lynn offered knowledge, advice, and tools to maintain productivity and manage your time effectively. We will be sharing a four-part series of advice that was shared in this workshop. 

Why do we procrastinate? When we’re supposed to be working on a report, we can clean our house, bake for our friends but not sit down and get the required work completed. Procrastination comes from a fear of failure. Since we think we’re going to be unsuccessful at a task, we end up avoiding it all together. Additionally, life can be impeding – there are multiple tasks to get done in a day, so avoiding the one that brings the most discomfort is a natural reaction. Finally, the overarching reason we procrastinate is because there is more instant gratification from the task that we’re doing than the task that we’re procrastinating. It’s often difficult for us to step away from the activities that give us instant gratification and trade that for a future potential payoff down the road. 

Unfortunately, when we’re doing the task that brings us instant gratification, oftentimes the “procrastination monster” is still taking up a large amount of headspace and we often still feel anxious about the looming task that’s in our future. 

The cost of procrastination is that it can affect both your personal and your professional life. It can affect your relationships, finances, your health if you procrastinate reaching out to a physician. In the professional realm, procrastination can affect the client/customer relationship, your business or professional finances, your reputations. Procrastination can also lead to missed opportunities in both your personal and professional life. 

Lynn shared with us the top 5 reasons that people procrastinate. Being aware of the cause of procrastination could allow you to recognize why you’re procrastinating, which means you are more self-aware and can address the procrastination more directly. 

1. Fear of failure

This is caused because avoiding the task means we can’t attempt the task and therefore can’t fail at it. You can’t fail if you don’t try in the first place, but it also means you will never know what would happen if you do try. 

2. Fear of success

The fear of success seems like it couldn’t be a reason that people procrastinate, but it is. Oftentimes, success can seem daunting as well. For example, you could be worried that if your idea or business is successful, what that will mean for you and what changes it will bring. It could impact other aspects of your life that you don’t want to change. Additionally, success can be intimidating. If you do succeed with the first step, how will you have the knowledge and tools to go forward with the next step? 

3. Perfectionism

This is the desire to have everything you create to be perfect. This could limit you from completing a task that you want to complete, because it can never live up to your standards. Sometimes it’s better to do a lot of things very well instead of everything perfectly.

4. Feeling overwhelmed

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by multiple tasks. The best way to cope with this is to plan using task management and time management skills, to make sure you can focus on one thing at a time and accomplish what you need to. 

5. Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like you’re a fraud, or not good enough to accomplish your goals. This narrative is paralyzing and can make it difficult to reach out to others for help and support.

 

 

Now that we know what causes procrastination, what are some tactics that can be used to solve it? 

  • Eat the frog
    • Do the tasks that are making you the most anxious first, this way you can complete them and move on with your day. This limits procrastination from the start. 
  • Do the first 15 minutes
    • Doing 15 minutes of a task is better than doing 0 minutes of a task. By starting small and placing a time limit, this can usually eliminate some of the stress and fear. Oftentimes you end up working on the task for longer. 
  • Rewards
    • Reward yourself when you accomplish something difficult. This will make you more likely to complete difficult tasks from the start. 
  • Fill your calendar
    • By time blocking for specific tasks, this allows you to use that time for that task and makes it non-negotiable. 
  • Prioritize tasks
  • Shorten your “To Do” list
    • Oftentimes, we overestimate what we can accomplish in a day. By shortening your To Do list, more work can get done and you will feel more motivated and successful at the end of the day. 

Since this is the last blog post in the Blog Post Series: The Principles of Time Management & Productivity, the last part of the workshop ended with Lynn sharing an inspirational quote by David Allen “The world is filled with good things to do, make and accomplish; use time wisely”.