Are you one of those people who feel you do your best work under pressure? You push off projects until the last minute while telling yourself that you’ll be able to accomplish them to the best of your ability. Well, research disagrees with you. Procrastinating at work is less likely to lead to high-quality work.
If you wait until the last minute, you may feel more motivated to finish the task (because you HAVE to do it), but you aren’t likely to do your best work. You run out of time to think and reflect on what you’re working on. You run out of time to ask for and receive feedback. And the truth is, you settle for whatever you can accomplish while telling yourself you did your best.
That may sound a little harsh, but sometimes the truth hurts.
If you’re ready to face the truth and overcome the obstacle of procrastination, keep reading. Below are tips to stop procrastinating and start crossing tasks off your to-do list (because we all know how good that feels.)
1. Break every project into bite-size pieces
Big projects can feel overwhelming. You don’t know where to start, and it feels like there is too much to do. If you find yourself procrastinating on projects or big tasks, the first thing that can help is to break them down into smaller pieces. This allows you to create easier-to-complete bite-sized tasks for your to-do list.
Suppose you need to hire a new employee. If you put “hire new employee” on your to-do list, it’s likely to move from day to day uncompleted. The problem is that many steps, or tasks, need to be completed before you can check off “hire new employee” from your list.
For example, you need to write a job description, post the job description, review resumes, schedule interviews, conduct interviews, schedule second interviews, make an offer, and so on. When you break the task into small sections like this, it’s much easier to know what you need to do. Then, you can cross each small task off and know exactly where you stand on completing the project.
Looking at these smaller tasks tends to feel much less overwhelming than thinking about the big task as a whole.
2. Strategically choose when to do each task
Research has found that our productivity level drops throughout the day. This is why it’s recommended that you accomplish your most challenging tasks early in the day. You have more energy to focus on a difficult task early in the day. If you push it off toward the end of the day, the dread of knowing that it’s hanging over your head can make you less productive as you work on other tasks.
So, if you knock out the most demanding thing on your to-do list first, you will also eliminate some unnecessary stress from your day. Then, you can continue moving on to more manageable tasks as the day progresses. Your brain and your to-do list will thank you.
3. Learn to identify your priorities and goals
Another reason why many people procrastinate at work is that they don’t know what to do next. They are paralyzed in moving forward because they haven’t taken the time to identify their goals. When you know your goals, you can identify your priorities and the tasks you need to do to reach those goals.
The SPEAR process teaches leaders and managers how to set goals and break them down into smaller goals. Then, the tasks that make it on your to-do list are the things that need to be accomplished to move you closer to reaching your goal. This process eliminates the fear and paralysis of not knowing what to do next or what to focus on.
Does it sound too simple?
Learning to overcome procrastination is simple, but that doesn’t mean it will feel effortless. It can help to have someone to join you along the journey to help you overcome the obstacle of procrastination. SPEARity business coaching gives you the accountability and support you need to make the progress you want in your business and life. If you want to see how it can work for you, contact us today to explore your options.