We conclude our series on organisation by looking at something we have all suffered from at one point in our lives. You know what you have to do but for one reason or another you keep putting it off. Your to do list turns into a “will one day do it list”. This is called procrastination.
In his book Take the stairs: Seven Steps to Achieving True Success. Rory Vaden states that there are three types of procrastination.
The first type is Classic Procrastination: Here you consciously delay what you know you should be doing. Most of us tend to fall in this category.
It maybe that you are good in one area of your life but struggle in another. For example, I am good at organizing and getting things ready but I loathe cleaning up. Another area I procrastinate in is working out. Some days I literally talk myself out of doing my exercises.
Rory says the second type tends to be subtle, unconscious and invisible. He calls it Creative Avoidance. With this type, you unconsciously fill your day with menial work and end up being busy for the sake. You tend to put off the important things and drift towards easier and more interesting activities.
In today’s world where people like to worship at the altar of busyness, this type is quickly gaining ground. Sometimes you may find that you go through your day dealing with small urgent things and ignoring the big important ones.
Experts who offer help to those struggling with working effectively, ask them to maintain a time sheet. Very often, people are surprised at how they are using their time. It is thus recommended that you get into the habit of auditing your day and asking whether you have been efficient or effective in getting things done.
Unfortunately, over achievers tend to have the final type which is called Priority Dilution. With this type of procrastination, the culprits are aware of what their goals are but instead of working towards them, they allow themselves to gravitate towards less important tasks.
Since their goals were not set with focus in the first place, they find themselves being pulled in all directions. Rory draws the distinction that whereas one with creative avoidance takes the unimportant and makes them urgent, one with priority dilution often takes the urgent and inappropriately makes them important.
Whatever category you may find yourself in, procrastination is indeed a thief and tends to rob us of our effectiveness. Below we look at three ways in which we can beat procrastination.
1. Answer the WHY Question
We know that procrastination arises when we choose to put off things we know we should be doing in favour of more enjoyable tasks. The solution therefore is to begin by asking yourself WHY do I keep putting off this task? Usually the tasks we put off are the ones that contribute most to us achieving our goals and objectives. The answer to the WHY question may take you to the reason you set that particular goal in the first place.
In her book Playing Big… Tara Mohr asks us to be mindful of how we set our goals. She asks that we avoid setting “should goals” which are goals set out of a sense of “should” rather than out of authentic interest. She advocates for “gift goals” which truly resonate and flow from a spirit of self-care and not of perfectionism. In addition, “gift goals” are joyful to both pursue and achieve.
Recently I discovered I had set for myself a “should goal”. This was in regard to the blogging course from E.B.A because I am eager for the results the course promises. I set a goal to finish the course in nine months. I later found this was putting pressure on me and my other roles. It was after I sat and re evaluated the why question that I discovered where the problem was coming from. After I resolved to enjoy the journey and work at a manageable pace I found that what seemed like a burden was doable and that I was not procrastinating on doing the important tasks and looking for the easy and enjoyable ones.
2. Get Organised
This second solution seems a cliché one but it is not. In most cases organised people are able to beat procrastination because they are guided by their prioritized lists or schedules or routines.
In addition, when you take time to organize your activities, you are able to break big projects into manageable tasks which ensure you can “eat the big elephant a bite at a time”. Procrastination often arises because the task at hand appears overwhelming.
The way I work on beating my procrastination about exercising is I get really intentional with it. I include it on my to do list on days when I will be working out. I also ensure all my workout gear is ready. It helps when you try to plan and prepare things sooner than you think you need to.
Given the fact that procrastination is a habit, you need to deal with it the way you deal with other habits. This entails taking small but intentional steps to eliminate it. Sometimes you may need to get an accountability partner who will hold your hand until you can stand on your own.
3. Let Go Of Perfectionism
Nothing breeds procrastination as much as wanting everything to be perfect. Perfect time, perfect solution etc. But we all know that we are called to excellence and not perfection.
You need to be clear that perfectionism is not the same as wanting to be or do your best at all times. Instead it is wanting to ensure that all things align in your favour before you can get something done. Sometimes this is possible but not all the time.
The problem however is, instead of giving you the best, perfectionism rids you of opportunities you miss because you are too afraid to do or give anything which in your view is not perfect. I read somewhere that in silicon valley, they use the mantra “done is better than perfect”. Next time you catch yourself procrastinating because things are not to your standards remember this mantra and then get on with what you have to do.
In conclusion, we have seen that procrastination can be dealt with when we dig deep and find the answer to the question why we are putting off a particular task. Similarly, by organizing our lives we are able to break down projects into manageable tasks. Finally, it helps to remember that we are called to be excellent and not perfect since only God is perfect.
The Organisation Series
3 Ways To Beat Procrastination (You are here)