Every now and again in business we can be faced with a task that seems too hard, huge or horrible, causing even the most productive among us to become serial procrastinators.
At these times you will no doubt find your email inbox will be empty, your social media accounts will be updated (possibly multiple times) and every other task on your to-do list will be ticked off in a bid to avoid the task that is hanging over your head.
But as we have all found there comes a point when you can no longer avoid it and the task must be faced head on. So on the off chance you are in the middle of a task war with yourself, here are five tips for overcoming procrastination when you really have to.
1. Put the task in perspective. The more you delay, dread and dwell on a task the worse it grows in your mind. Very soon the task can seem so big that you will never be able to complete it, or so awful that it will strip all the joy from your life if you attempt it.
When you start to feel this way take the time to put your task in its proper perspective. What is this one task in the big scheme of things? What is it helping you achieve? What are you getting from doing it (is it money, recognition, personal satisfaction, closer to your goals)? Instead of focusing on not wanting to do the task, imagine the relief, excitement and joy you will experience when you finally get to tick it off your to-do list. By keeping your tasks in the proper perspective and looking at them in a positive way you will find you are more likely to have the energy and courage you need to both attempt and complete them.
2. Break the task down into small steps. Sometimes when you look at a task from start to completion it can seem like you are facing the impossible and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. To overcome your overwhelm break big tasks down into a series of small steps and focus on achieving them one by one. With each small step you complete you will become more motivated to take the next step and the next one after that.
3. Just start When you have established what you need to do, take some form of action. It doesn’t matter how small the action is just do something towards it. It may be opening a document and writing the first sentence, getting a pen and paper and writing down some thoughts or a plan, inputting one month’s worth of figures into a spreadsheet, or sorting some of your files. Starting is often the hardest part but by taking action, even if it is small, you will change your mindset from “I can’t do it” to “I am doing it”.
4. Reward Yourself If you are finding it hard to get motivated, consider setting yourself a reward. The key though is to choose something that will provide you with enough incentive to complete your task.
5. Keep yourself accountable to someone Tell someone your plans to achieve your task and ask if they can check up on your progress to keep you accountable. It is a lot easier to make excuses to ourselves and say we will do it later, but when you keep yourself accountable to someone else, often the very thought of letting them down or having their opinion of you change is enough to keep you on track.
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