Beating Procrastination Manage your time; get it all done.
by Kellie Fowler
If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. In fact, most people procrastinate to some degree - but some are so chronically affected by procrastination that it disrupts their careers and thwarts even their best efforts.
The key to controlling and ultimately combating this destructive habit is to understand how and why it happens (even to the best of us) and to take a few simple steps to better manage your time and outcomes.
In a nutshell, you procrastinate when you put off things that you should be focusing on right now, usually in favor of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.
Sometimes this happens when someone does not understand the difference between urgency and importance. The prevailing belief here: We all have the same amount of time in every day and procrastinators spend this time fully, but do not invest it wisely.
Instead, procrastinators focus so much on urgent issues that they have little or no time left for the important tasks, despite the unpleasant outcomes this may bring about.
Other causes of procrastination can be as simple as waiting for the “right” mood or the “right” time to tackle the important task at hand; a fear of failure or success; underdeveloped decision-making skills; poor organizational skills; or perfectionism.
How to Combat Procrastination:Whatever the reason behind procrastination, it must be recognized, dealt with and controlled before you miss opportunities or your career is derailed.
Part of the solution is to develop good organizational and personal effectiveness skills. Learn to establish the right priorities, and manage your time in such a way that you make the most of the opportunities open to you.
The other part of the solution can be as simple as applying this rule of thumb: If you're not working (directly of indirectly) to progress your top priority projects, you may be procrastinating. And, when you're doing something important, such as working on your top-priority project or task, and something urgent comes up, recognize that this will take time away from this important work.
To do this, it is imperative to understand the difference between urgency and importance.
On one hand, let’s say that your boss comes to your office and says he or she has called a meeting and wants you to join other team members in the conference room now. This is clearly urgent.
Or, your sales manager calls in from the field and explains that your biggest customer just received the wrong shipment and is in dire need of the correct shipment. This will require tracking down the original shipment, working through the placed orders, even the salesman’s paperwork, etc. Again, this is urgent.
However, while immediate action is needed here, these things only tangentially affect the truly important things in your life.
Important things are likely to be the actions that serve to broaden you, build your career, or achieve something of real human significance to you. These important actions are often easy to pinpoint, for they are the ones that help you achieve your goals.
This is not to say that you do not have to take care of the urgent things. Instead, you will need to take care of these things as efficiently as possible, while also staying on top of the important demands/going-ons of the day. You’ll need to minimize the time spent on these urgent tasks, while still ensuring that they are successfully and efficiently resolved.
With proper planning and some self-discipline, many urgent matters disappear altogether or, when they do surface, your planning and discipline makes them less urgent and easier to deal with. This means that you waste less of the valuable time that should be spent on the important things.
And, keep in mind that you probably do not have to handle every urgent matter yourself. Delegate as far as possible, so that you do not get caught up in remedying every urgent situation. To spend life "firefighting" is a misuse of your “important” time.