Overcoming the Procrastination Problem
By: Tina Baiter
Did you know the average person gets over 300 e-mails a week, and they read most of those e-mails on Monday? I wish I could say I was surprised when I learned that, but I am definitely one of those people. And at one point in my life, I allowed e-mail to almost consume my day.
Identify Your Crutch
In fact, I looked forward to e-mails. They made me feel busy, but at the end of the day I didn’t feel productive. At the end of the week, I really didn’t feel productive. And at the end of the month, well let’s just say I was disappointed at how little I had accomplished on my goals.
E-mails may not be your crutch. For you, it may be phone calls, voicemails, talking to co-workers about personal things, Facebook, television, surfing the internet, or any other thing that unproductively occupies bulk hours of your time without you realizing it.
Understand Your Crutch
It took me three days to identify my crutch, and it was easy to do. For three days I kept a log of how I spent every single minute of the day. Then I calculated up how much time was spent on e-mail, even work related e-mail. Reading the e-mails wasn’t the part that was stopping me from accomplishing my goals. Getting side tracked spending time answering them, fixing the problems they asked about, or doing the projects they requested, was what was really eating my time.
As I looked at everything I had not accomplished, compared to the pile of piddly stuff I had accomplished thanks to e-mails, I wondered how I had let my time get away from me. One word popped into my mind: PROCRASTINATION!
Throw Away Your Crutch
I came to realize procrastination was my crutch, and it happens for several reasons.
1. Lack of Passion
My two passions in life are graphic design and writing. If I could spend 24 hours a day in front of the computer creating things, I would be one happy little camper. But my job requires me to do a lot of other things: daily, weekly and monthly reports, marketing strategies and planning, meetings, social engagements, just to name a few. I enjoy doing those things too, but it is so much more fun to create things instead of think about strategies. Creating things without a strategy, however, is a sure fire way to find failure.
After I realized my first problem was passion, I was able to better understand my interruptions. Of course I always wanted to jump when someone sent me a request to create a new sign, write a letter to a customer, or post a job on Facebook (my other secret addiction). Those were fun. But they weren’t always productive.
What about you? Do you let small activities you may be more passionate about overrun bigger activities that may be helping you reach your goals? If so, find the balance.
2. Confusing Perfection with Procrastination
My biggest weakness is perfectionism. I want everything to be perfect. What I didn’t realize is that sometimes I hide behind the cover of perfection when what I am really doing is procrastinating.
For over a year now I have said I am going to start my own business. I have created business cards, a website and shared my vision with a few people. But I never really pulled the trigger on starting. Why? Let’s see. I didn’t think the website had enough examples of my work. I didn’t think my work schedule allowed enough time to do a side business. I wasn’t sure I could give 100 percent to my current job and my business.
The excuse list really was endless. Looking back at some of the big projects I had hoped to complete last year, I realized my list of excuses for not completing them all had something to do with not being able to be perfect at doing them. Then someone told me, “Don’t confuse perfection with procrastination. If you do, you’ll never accomplish anything.”
3. Set Dates and Times
In order to overcome my procrastination problem, I created a plan. I set up goals and a time line for accomplishing them. For the first month of my plan I accomplished 8 out of 9 big goals. That’s much better than my record of 1 out of 9 big goals from the prior month. Sure, not everything was perfect. Sure, I didn’t have nearly as much fun doing the hard work. But at the end of the month, I actually felt accomplished.
If, like me, you have a problem with procrastinating on the big stuff, I recommend you stop. Find out why you’re procrastinating doing things. If it is a lack of passion, find something passionate about the project. If there is nothing passionate at all to find, maybe you need to find a new project. If perfectionism is your problem, let it go. It turns out, not everything has to be perfect. Most importantly, set a realistic timeline and make yourself work towards it.
[Ed. Note: One of the steps Tina took to help set-up her plan was completing Dr. Tim's Living Every Minute Program. Order the audio version of the program today.]