Many office workers arrive each day and ignore the most pressing and difficult tasks, choosing to begin with lower priority jobs. It’s classic procrastination and it is doing serious harm to your personal productivity. The ability to overcome procrastination and tackle the important actions that have the biggest positive impact in your life or business is a hallmark of the most successful people.
You’re back at work, the kids are back at school, and Easter is a month away. With so many interrupted weeks in the first half of the year, it’s absolutely critical to take action now if you’re going to make 2016 the year you improved your time management and reached your potential in workplace productivity.
People procrastinate for a number of reasons – there are no clear deadlines, resources are inadequate, they don’t know where to begin, they’re overwhelmed by the task, they fear failure or they have no passion for the work. My approach is to urge people to discipline themselves by starting with the biggest, hardest, most important task first. Your ability to select and start the most important task, and get it done both quickly and well, will probably have greater impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop. If you nurture the habit of setting clear priorities and getting important tasks quickly finished, most of your time management issues will simply fade away.
It’s important for people to be conscious of their personal biorhythms and to work in tune with them. Whether you’re a morning person or an evening person, people like to do things they enjoy when they are feeling good. This can lead to leaving tougher tasks to times when you are not feeling most alert. One of the most important decisions you make each day is your choice of what you will do immediately and what you will do later, or postpone indefinitely.
Here are nine tips for overcoming procrastination and turbo-charging your productivity:
- Delete It. What are the consequences of not doing the task at all? Consider the 80/20 rule; maybe it doesn’t need to be done in the first place.
- Delegate. If the task is important, ask yourself if it’s really something that you are responsible for doing in the first place. Know your job description. Can the task be given to someone else?
- Do It Now. Postponing an important task that needs to be done only creates feelings of anxiety and stress. Do it as early in the day as you can.
- Ask For Advice. Asking for help from a trusted mentor, supervisor, coach, or expert can give you some great insight on where to start and the steps for completing a project.
- Chop It Up. Break large projects into milestones, and then into actionable steps. Huge things don’t look as big when you break it down as small as you can.
- Have Clear Deadlines. Assign yourself a deadline for projects and milestones and write it down in your day planner or calendar. Make your deadlines known to other people who will hold you accountable.
- Give Yourself A Reward. Celebrate the completion of project milestones and reward yourself for getting projects done on time. It will provide positive reinforcement and motivate you toward your goals.
- Remove Distractions. You need to establish a positive working environment that is conducive to getting your work done. You effectively manage your time by creating an effective workspace.
- De-Clutter. A cluttered workspace significantly impairs your ability to find things. Removing clutter is time-consuming but you’ll get the time back that you invest and more. You need a filing system that enables you to retrieve materials quickly – Working files with materials used frequently; Reference files with information used occasionally; and Archival files with materials seldom used but that must be kept.
About the author:
Paul Findlay is Managing Director of PD Training, one of Australia’s leading professional development companies. Paul was named one of the world’s “Top 20 Emerging Training Leaders for 2015″ by TrainingMagazine.com.