Procrastination is something that most of us can relate to. And, if we are lucky, we will learn the skill of procrastinating procrastination. With this top-of-mind recently, I read the book, The Procrastination Cure by Damon Zahariades.
The book makes some solid points for consideration. Let us look at some of them. Hopefully, they will serve as food-for-thought and will help you avoid procrastination, especially with that job search you have on your plate.
Present Self & Future Self: Procrastination – Kick the Habit
Your present self and your future self are both looking for gratification. It is usually the present self with its tight hold on THE NOW that wins out against the interests of the future self, which are served at the expense of more immediate pleasure or “pain avoidance.” Essentially, the present has a louder voice and usually wins out against the lower, softer voice of a more abstract and distant future.
The key area for consideration here is to learn not to fear failure. The experience of failure is yet another data point in a never-ending iterative process that is necessary for long-term success. If you ultimately find yourself in stall-mode and / or “circling the drain” as the phrase goes, just do something. Take some action, any action to move forward with your job search. It is far better than freezing, otherwise known as “analysis paralysis.”
The “Eat the Frog” analogy has been used by many business-types and consultants with respect to advice related to productivity. And this makes sense because it is strong advice in my view. It essentially advocates for taking on the big and/or important tasks in your day first and head-on. Everything else is down-hill from there so-to-speak.
Pare-Down Your To-Do List
Too many things on a “To Do” list is bad news. It is simply going to create an overwhelm situation and we can all agree that that is not a good place to be. The author advocates for no more than 7 items on a To Do list. I would advocate for a max of 5 in a day with the idea that less is most always more. Keep it simple and take on one task at a time. It is a misnomer that multi-tasking is effective.
Yes, many people do it and get away with it at times. However, your work quality, sanity, and overall productivity will be much better over the long term if you avoid multi-tasking.
Calendar – Your Friend
This is a powerful time-management tool that is often under-utilized. It is important to carve-out time blocks that allow you to take on and address your priority tasks for the day. You do not want an overflowing calendar because, again, too much is usually never a good thing even though we are often tempted with our big eyes.
Think of being productive over the long term. To use another often-used analogy, “It’s the war, not the battle that’s important.”
Enlist Environment in Battle of Present Self vs. Future Self
It will be no surprise, but most will admit that our environment usually works against us as opposed to for us. Help yourself by doing whatever you can to eliminate temptations and distractions from your work environment.
Eliminating a TV from your workspace and doing whatever you can to steer clear of social media during your work time will serve you well. Do what you can to tip the playing field toward you in this regard. Remember, staying out of a bad situation altogether is a best practice here.
Less is More
Again, less is most often more. Try to be mindful of eliminating unnecessary tasks and focusing more on completing the real game-changing tasks. And gamify your process if you can. Remember, what’s fun will usually get done. Fun is procrastination’s enemy. Use this tool as much as possible. Be creative.
Use your colleagues or business partners to help with accountability. Setting goals for yourself is fine but we often even do better when we need to respect outward-facing deadlines that involve others. Give this some thought. It may help.
And always remember that negative self-talk or embracing a perfectionist attitude will generally not serve you well over the long term. Do what you can to cultivate a mindset that is positive and filled with tools that will facilitate your creativity and productivity.
And never forget that this is always a balance between your present self and your future self. It is okay to enjoy the present, but you need to respect your future self as well. Good luck.