We all know that procrastination is an unhealthy habit. We put off something that we don’t want to do, usually because we find it uncomfortable or unpleasant. I have some personal bugbears which include unnecessary amounts of rigid rules and process. Banking falls into this category. I personally feel that the banking industry is in for a shake-up with new technologies and market participants being more efficient and responsive to the customer. Compliance with regulation is another one that burns holes in my soul.I have a few things outstanding in the above categories that I need to address. But I’m waiting until my health improves and I feel a little stronger in order to tackle them. I’ll be mindful of whether I’m really not up to it or actually procrastinating when the time comes.
A lovely book I read, Eat That Frog, provides some really great tips on how to tackle procrastination. Some of the tips include eat the ugliest frog first, don’t stare at it for long, resist the temptation to do small things (remember the 80/20 rule), prioritise, delegate what you can, prepare fully and launch right in. Focussing on the top three problems in each category of your life can help you focus, and ensure you address the most significant things first. There’s no point fixing trivial problems when there are major ones dragging you down.
Even before doing Gretchen Rubin’s quiz, I knew that I was an Obliger – a people-pleaser. I prioritise the needs of others over my own as such, us Obligers are prone to burnout! Indeed, I find my health in a really poor state from trying to meet the needs of other people.
In order for me to meet my own needs, one of the best strategies is to publish my goals. It’s this external accountability that drives me because it will be embarrassing if I fail. I’m focussing on setting goals that are about me now and I’m making them known so that I can be sure to meet them. My top two goals for this year:
- Get well (this is the biggest problem in my life
currently – falls into the health/vitality category)
- Write a book – ready for publication end
December 2015 (this goal is aligned with finding flow experiences since I’ve spent years working outside my flow)
What I have noticed is that I don’t procrastinate on areas of where I find flow. I actually get a little irritable if I can’t write in my day. For me, that is a good sign, in that I know that those are the things that must be part of my future career.
When tackling something I have been procrastinating on, I try to remind myself that I feel so good when it’s complete. I often wonder why I put it off for so long when it wasn’t really that hard. A really important aspect is setting deadlines. If there is no date assigned to something, I tend to drift.
Another strategy is to promise yourself that you only have to spend two minutes on the ugliest frog. Getting started is usually the hardest part, so one usually finds that two minutes extends into an hour or more. With my running training I found the hardest step is the one out of bed. Once you’re up, it’s easy to keep going. And it feels great once it’s done.
It’s important to know what drives you. I know that I can be motivated by fear. The fear of running 56 km of difficult hills motivates me to get going in the morning. Fear of being embarrassed by not meeting published goals is something else that drives me. Knowing yourself well helps in figuring out how to overcome procrastination and achieve the things that are important to you.