You’ve got that important thing to do. It’s looming and it needs doing yesterday. But now seems like the best time to alphabetise your book collection, or clear out the office fridge, or organise the company’s Christmas party, even though it’s only February.
Everyone procrastinates to a degree. A study in 2015 found Brits procrastinate an average of 55 days a year, which costs businesses a whopping £76bn.
But there are ways to curb it.
Do the task you’re dreading first
On every to-do list there’s usually that one dreaded thing to do. It might be complicated, or time-consuming, or interminably boring, but it’s probably the one you’re most likely to procrastinate over.
To stop it from ending up on your to-do list time and time again, just suck it up and do it first.
When we procrastinate, the smaller tasks are often left by the wayside, and there’s a whole host of residual anxiety about not getting stuff done that we might not even be aware of. By tackling it head-on, it leaves our minds free of stress, and lets us crack on with the rest of the list.
Stick to a schedule
How many times have you had a great idea, then decided to implement it ‘when I’ve got time’? And how many times has the time never come? Probably more than you’d like. Time isn’t going to magic itself, so it’s up to you to schedule it.
Whether it’s a Google calendar, a paper diary or a good old Post-It note, scheduling those tasks (and sticking to it!) you keep meaning to get around to, and holding yourself accountable will ensure you actually get some work done.
Try the Pomodoro Technique
Invented in Italy in the 80s, but recently popularised by trendy young things, the Pomodoro Technique breaks down tasks into smaller chunks with regular breaks.
The aim is to set a timer to give yourself 25 minutes to work on a task and only that task – this period is known as a pomodoro (remember those kitchen timers shaped like a tomato? It’s what the technique is named after, as pomodoro means tomato in Italian). After one pomodoro is up, you put a mark on a piece of paper, then take a small break of around 5 minutes. When your break is up you start again with the timer. After four pomorodos, you get a longer rest of around 30 minutes.
The technique claims to help procrastination by helping you to stay on task for short amounts of time, offering plenty of breaks, as well as a visual representation of what you’ve achieved so far (in terms of the marks you make after each pomodoro).
Work out why you’re putting it off
Discovering the root of your procrastination can be the key to unlock the habit. Are you frightened of failure? Are you a die-hard perfectionist (a super-common reason for procrastination in high-level managers!)? Or maybe you just really can’t be bothered.
If you know the underlying cause, you’re in a better position to attack it. The answers won’t be the same for everyone, but when you have a little insight, you can give yourself a fighting chance to break the habit and boost your productivity too.
Don’t let procrastination get in the way of your potential. If you need a little help with getting number crunching off your to-do list, give us a call…preferably today.