Many people have a tendency to procrastinate. This could be because the task is complicated, you’re unfamiliar with it, there’s a prospect of conflict or you simply prefer to socialise rather than work! But motivating yourself to ‘do’ rather than ‘avoid’ some tasks will result in higher levels of achievement, satisfaction, and increased self-belief and self-esteem. So here are the top 10 tips to help you do that:
- Each task expands to the time allotted to it, so set a limit for yourself: ‘I’ll make all my phone calls in one hour’; ‘I’ll file for 30 minutes’; ‘I’ll spend an hour on this report.’ Set a timer. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done (and enjoy it!) when you focus your time.
- Do unpleasant tasks first. One of the reasons we put things off is because we don’t like the task, or at least we have told ourselves we don’t like doing it! So do it first and get it out of the way. Your sense of achievement at the end of it will put you in a positive frame of mind, and you will be more motivated to do other tasks.
- Reward yourself with tasks you want to do, to give you something to look forward to. Alternating unpleasant and pleasant tasks means you are less likely to find yourself drifting off to other things. And looking forward to a pleasant task is more motivating than looking forward to an unpleasant one!
- Eat that elephant – one mouthful at a time! Break up large tasks or projects into bite-sized chunks, and schedule these into your diary or your planner to achieve the final deadline. If you are waiting for information from someone so you can do the task at hand, chase them. It’s better to be doing something than nothing.
- If you can’t do the task now, plan it into your diary. And stick to it! You can’t keep putting it off. At some point it will become a crisis and you will not do it justice. That will simply demotivate you next time.
- Think about the consequences of missing a deadline. This will encourage you to start and to complete the task.
- If the thought of certain tasks fills you with anxiety, try breathing. Inhale deeply; then exhale, each time counting five heartbeats. You should notice after each breath that your heart rate is slowing and you feel less tense. Now do something – no matter how small – just make a start. The very act of doing something will ease your anxiety.
- If you have to handle a tricky situation that may cause conflict, plan what you are going to say, think about what the reaction may be and how you will handle this, and then just do it. The longer you leave it, the worse it could become.
- Don’t panic if you’re behind schedule – get creative! Request time extensions; get help from colleagues and managers; delegate tasks; reprioritise tasks. But don’t use this as an excuse to put off the task.
- There is no situation that can’t be solved once you let your expectations change about how it should be. So don’t sit there worrying about it, just do it!
Des Whitehorn is the Training Principal of Zee Associates (www.zee-associates.co.uk). She can be contacted on 01825 733621 or firstname.lastname@example.org