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Avoiding Procrastination

Updated: Jun 11

Merriam-Webster defines procrastination as putting off intentionally and habitually. You know you must do x and end up doing everything but x. So, why is that? What is holding us back from completing our tasks?


woman stressed at work

There is some real science behind procrastination. Let us start by saying that we do not have a Ph.D. or claim to be experts on the topic. However, we are experts at project management, and sometimes, we find team members procrastinating.


Why Procrastinate

Why People Procrastinate: The Psychology and Causes of Procrastination, “ from the Solving Procrastination organization, breaks down procrastination into digestible steps. Take a look.


For this article, let’s focus on these three steps related to project management.

  1. Rely on self-control.

  2. Receive support from motivation.

  3. Lack of motivation leads to procrastination.

If you want a more thorough explanation, read The Short Version section.


Look within to define what is holding us back. Why do you not want to do x? Here are the most commonly encountered reasons.

  • Lack of knowledge

  • Unable to see why x is necessary

  • Fear of making a mistake

  • Not enough time

  • No training

  • Lacking motivation

What control do you have in overcoming why you are procrastinating? Is there someone that can support you in overcoming your dilemma? Find the strength to ask someone for support. People do not know you are struggling unless you speak up. Do not let fear or disappointment stand in your way of accomplishing your goals. There are people ready to support you; you need to ask.


If your procrastination has reached a chronic level, seek help. Choosing Therapy’s article “How to Deal With Chronic Procrastination & When to Get Help” does an excellent job of diving into a more clinical explanation of procrastination and provides many helpful resources.



runner jumping hurdles

How to Overcome Procrastination

We talked about seeking help. Let’s now consider other ways to build confidence in accomplishing your task.


Motivation

Is motivation holding you back? Get your motor running, and let’s go. What gets you moving? Try music when you need a pick-me-up. After a couple of your favorite tunes, you will help reset yourself. Or, try a short, brisk walk that will clear your head, get your heart pumping, and prepare you to tackle the next set of challenges.


So, what works for you? Define what that is and incorporate it into your routine.


Patience

Be patient with yourself. Learning something new takes time. Take notes on how to accomplish it so you can rest easy when it comes time to do it again.


Developing SOPs (standard operating procedures) offers you and your team comfort knowing you have all the instructions to complete a task. The SOPs yield a more efficient, productive team. Need help establishing SOPs? Contact Imagine today.


Plan

Schedule time in your day to accomplish the task. Having enough time to complete your task is the first step. We are juggling so many items that time-consuming tasks often get pushed back or delayed because there is not enough time to complete them.


Understanding how much time is needed to complete your task and the resources required will help you accomplish your job with much less stress, and you will feel good about accomplishing your project.


Pro Tip: When crafting your SOP, note the time required to complete the task and the necessary resources.


Procrastination Solutions

Here are some helpful tools or tips for dealing with procrastination.


Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, founded the Eisenhower principle, which helps us prioritize by urgency and importance.


Define where the task lies in the matrix and plan accordingly. In our research, we came across this: “Why Do We Procrastinate? 12 Psychological Reasons Behind It” from LifeHack.

Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Prioritize

Make your task a priority. Plan it during your most productive day and time of day.


Start Date

Focus on the start date, not the due date. It sounds much more appealing: “I need to start on ____, rather than ____ is due today.” Positivity yields positive outcomes.


Phases

Break up the task into smaller phases. Schedule your phases by time blocking. Determine the different steps necessary to complete the project. After 45 minutes, productivity declines, so only schedule 45-minute blocks. Your window may be more or less. Note when you start to lose interest and shift to another task.


5-Minute Rule

Set your timer and try it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, determine if you will proceed or schedule it for another day. Of course, 5 minutes could be 20 minutes for you. The idea here is to keep it non-threatening to your day or self-esteem and keep your motivation high throughout the day.


Delegate or Outsource

Does it make sense for someone else to complete the project? If you are in the position to hire someone or delegate the task to someone else, maybe that is your solution.


Moving Forward

We hope you enjoyed the post and that it makes a difference for you and your team. If you need help with project or program management, connect with Imagine. We enjoy working with teams to accomplish their goals.



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