Hour glassNot so long ago, i was a master procrastinator. By that i do not mean, i blindly kept pushing things to a later day. I was a sort of a person who would take 80% of the time to prepare and sport my mind to be set on a task and 20% of the time to do that task. Though this cannot be called procrastination, sometimes because my mind was not willing to do a task, i ended up wasting more time to “cool my mind down” which eventually delayed the whole task and i ended up procrastinating.

Nowadays, though i try hard not to procrastinate, it is not so easy to get rid of the habit completely. But I, definitely, have got better and no longer just postpone things just because my brain doesn’t feel like doing it… I should admit this was a tough habit to break, but there are a few ways to actually break it. Earlier, i even had a saying (a bit like a principle) that went “why do something today that you can do it tomorrow?”. My wife on the other hand is completely opposite. She wants to complete everything as soon as possible while i would like to push it to the final moments.

I would say both policies are not very good. Because of my attitude of pushing to the last minute, i have felt i didn’t quite have the time to do things to my complete satisfaction. I probably would have done much better if i had gradually progressed on a task instead of just pushing them to a later date. On the other hand, the attitude of  ’do it now’ comes with a ‘free-unlimited-stress’ package. I have seen people who want to complete things immediately take things too seriously and get easily stressed when things do not go to plan. And, this can happen very easily, for example, when working with a colleague who procrastinates all the time and because of that your schedules get affected and puts you under unwanted stress.

So, how to break this habit of procrastination? These are some of the steps i took…

1. Be Aware

Procrastination, I think, is very much a psychological thing and that can be fixed to a reasonable level by showing interest in getting the problem fixed. So, the first and foremost thing is to be aware of the fact that you are indeed procrastinating. Being aware of it eventually would help you feel “oh, i shouldn’t do that!”

2. Set simple goals – first!

I was aware of the fact that i was procrastinating (big time) and i wanted to stop doing that. My only reason was i did not want my colleagues at my job to form an idea that i always procrastinate. So I decided not to procrastinate anything for just one day, even if that means not being able to deliver 100% . I tried and i succeeded – but i was mentally drained by the end of the day.

3. Get a grip of the situation – Important/Urgent Matrix

Then i decided to take this further and try it out for a week or so. But there were a few problems. We all have minor relatively un-important tasks that might be urgent or tasks that might not be very urgent but are very important. Each of these would assume varying levels of priority and some tasks need to be pushed to a later date to get the others done. To solve this, i used the important / urgent matrix, which is a four-quadrant chart that has

1. Important and urgent tasks on the first quadrant

2. Unimportant but urgent tasks on the second quadrant

3. Important but non-urgent tasks on the third quadrant

4. Unimportant and non-urgent on the fourth quadrant

Whenever a task came up, i assigned it in one of the four quadrants. At first there were too many and i had to work harder to get it all done. I concentrated on the items in the first quadrant before moving on to those in the second quadrant. Then came third and fourth. I actually found reasonable success with this method.

5. Get a grip of the situation – Task Lists

The yet another change i made was to come up with a task list. I would simply list all the tasks in a file (or you can write it down in a piece of paper) whenever they come up. Every morning, before i start my day at work, i spent 5 minutes going through the tasks and organising them into the important/urgent matrix. I tried and broke tasks that are very long term into intermediate milestones, so that they don’t slip out of view and suddenly appear when the deadline came closer.

5. Be organised

Being organised is a mindset again. People who are extremely organised have partitions in their head that are like rooms in a house. They can switch from one task to another very quickly- just like moving from one room to another. Some people are naturally organised while some are not. But learning to be organised is not that difficult. Being organised, makes you want all things to be under control and that means not letting yourself procrastinate.

6. Be 99% perfect

Whenever i did something, i always wanted it to be presented to my perfection. When the outcome did not satisfy me, i would then think, “Alright, let me have a think and complete it tomorrow” and push it by another day. And as they say, tomorrow never dies!! Part of it could be my capability to deal with criticism from others for my work. I never wanted anyone to criticise my work and hence did not deliver until i made sure no one will criticise. But, i wanted to change this habit. I started adding comments like “draft…subject to change” whenever i delivered something. That made it 99% perfect and i can always update when i have new ideas.

7. And finally, wind down

A lot of research shows that work-life balance is such an important factor to lead a happy life. If we are too stressed with things and have a lot of stuff lined up to do, then we will end up procrastinating. Take regular breaks and stop thinking about the tasks in hand for a while and then get back to it. You will see your productivity increase and you will find enough time to do your tasks and not procrastinate them.

Getting rid of procrastination, unfortunately, takes time. But once you are aware of it and have streamlined yourself to deal with it, you are sure to taste success.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • email

Related posts:

  1. One thing at a time
  2. Dealing with failure
  3. Four phases of success
  4. Losing authority
  5. Working with various cultures

© 2012 Exploring uncharted waters Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha