“I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” Jerome K Jerome
Procrastination is something we are probably all familiar with, being able to produce a list of overdue jobs that we never get round to.
Even with a well structured To Do List there will always be the odd task that either stays on the list or gets transferred to another list, perhaps remaining there for days or weeks or even months!
Whether it’s the tax return, a report with a fluid deadline, a newsletter, article or blog we’ve wanted to write for ages, a presentation we need to prepare, something seems to be holding us back. We then find reasons (or excuses?) why we can’t start a task and keep ourselves busy doing something else.
Whilst there are many reasons to procrastinate, here is the first of seven tips which we will publish over the next seven days, to help you turn procrastination into action:
Tip 1. Saying ‘No’ when You’re Doing Too Much
One of the most common causes of procrastination is overwhelm and having too much to do.
Women in particular often take too much on without being fully aware of the overall time they have available. In an attempt to cope with a heavy workload it is tempting to be selective and choose the easier more enjoyable jobs over the challenging or boring ones.
As it can be easy to underestimate how long some tasks take, procrastinators often wait for a deadline before acknowledging that something can’t be avoided any longer. Some people insist they work better under pressure, not realising the urgency dictated by a deadline can lead to a reduction in the quality of their work. It can also create stress which could be avoided by taking better control of the time available.
Keeping a record of the time some tasks take to complete may be useful or you could ask other people for rough estimates of the time they take for similar tasks. The next step is to allocate a realistic amount of time in your diary and check whether it is actually possible to achieve all your jobs in the time you have available.
Sometimes it helps to take control by saying ‘no’- either by letting something go or by delegating, if that is possible. By communicating this to the relevant people, you are taking responsibility for your time which is a proactive solution to avoiding jobs.