Question: I have come to the realization that I’m a procrastinator and it’s really impacting my career. How do I conquer this affliction?
Answer: We procrastinate for several reasons. Three of the more common include simply not wanting to do something; we don’t know how to do it, or we view the task as too big and daunting. It’s important to understand why we are reluctant to tackle whatever it is that needs to be accomplished. Then in clinical fashion we can resolve what is holding us back.
Let’s take the toughest one first – we simply don’t want to do something. Everyone has things they just don’t like doing. As a child, one of my chores was cleaning up the dog poop in the backyard – the product of my parent’s penchant for raising Chihuahuas. Because I was conscripted and had no choice in the matter, I learned to get this nasty responsibility out of the way in the morning before I went to school. As a result I got to eat; was able to play after school, and avoided the wrath of my parents. Fast forward to today and the lesson I learned is to resolve to do the things I don’t want to do as early in the day as possible and focus on the benefits of accomplishment.
A lack of knowledge or understanding can cause us to put off something that needs doing. The simple realization that this is why we are procrastinating can be the kick-start that we need to move forward. We determine if we need clarification from another person. Or perhaps we require technical information that can come through further study. A number of years ago I asked one of my newer colleagues to prepare what I thought was a fairly elementary analysis. Days went by, then a week. When I inquired as to the reason for what I thought was her procrastination, she was embarrassed to admit that she had no idea how to create an Excel spreadsheet.
What do we do about something we are avoiding because it looks so enormous and foreboding we don’t even want to start. Remember the old adage about eating an elephant one bite at a time? Well, it applies here. I am constantly dealing with massive and complicated projects and found long ago that the only way to keep from being overwhelmed is through obsessive planning. Break the task down into manageable components; organize them logically; plot them on a timeline, and execute. This is the only way for me to beat avoidance and stay sane.
The enemy of procrastination is determination. Determination as to the root cause of our avoidance, and then our determination to take the steps necessary to successfully complete the project or task at hand.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.