On the subject of procrastination, Mark Twain offered this advice: "Never put off for tomorrow what you can postpone until the day after." The trouble is that the things we put off may never get done. Or when we finally do get around to doing them, we are working under the pressure of a deadline, and we don't do them as well as we could have. It has been said, "Procrastination is not only the thief of time; it is the death of opportunity." No matter what job you do, procrastination is potentially the biggest waster of time and productivity.
I once read about 8 Phases of Procrastination. Perhaps you've experienced this cycle:
- Phase 1: "I'll start early this time" (hopeful)
- Phase 2: "I've got to start soon" (a little tension)
- Phase 3: "I should have started sooner" (creeping guilt)
- Phase 4: "There is still time to do it" (false reassurance)
- Phase 5: "What's wrong with me?" (getting desperate)
- Phase 6: "I can't wait any longer!" (intense pain)
- Phase 7: "Just get it done!" (get it over with)
- Phase 8: "Next time, I'll start earlier" (the cycle repeats)
Procrastination does tremendous damage to ourselves and others at work. It causes unnecessary pressure and problems... and it wastes opportunities, time and money. Procrastination is a part of human nature and nearly all of us have wrestled with it on occasion. The problem comes when procrastination becomes a habit or a consistent pattern in the way you work. The consequences can be devastating.
Here are a few tips to overcome procrastination:
- Be Proactive in Time Management - Often procrastination results from not knowing what to do next. Time management and a little organization can go a long way in getting the right stuff done at the right time.
- Avoid the Commitment Trap - Some procrastination takes place because we take on more than we can handle. Remember, it is always easier to fill your schedule than toJilfihl it. Don't take on so much that you get overwhehned and have to postpone important work.
- Don't Let Perfectionism Paralyze Performance - Someone once said, "If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done." Do your best, but by all means, do it now!
- Delegate Whenever Possible - Nothing solves procrastination like shifting a task to someone else's "To-Do" list. If someone else can do the job reasonably as well as you - give it to them. In those times that you can't delegate, adopt a "get it done - now" mind set.