Stop Procrastinating At Work

3281131319_680396f345Procrastinating has always been one of my worst character flaws.  I always have the tendency to want to play now, work later.  In the moment, I honestly have every intention of getting to the work; things just always take longer than I expect them to.  At this point in my life, I’ve just come to conclusion that I will always plan more for myself than I can ever get done.  Part of that is due to procrastinating; the other part is just overextending myself.  There are, however,  some things I have learned to help stop procrastinating at work.  One of the most important things for my success is getting the hardest or most important task of the day done first.

Why Do The Hardest/ Most Important Work First?

  • Think of life as a mountain- the climb up is much harder than the climb down.  It is far more appealing to do the hardest work of the day first and know you’ll be climbing downhill the rest of the day, rather than start with the easiest and know the day will get harder with every task.
  • At the beginning of the day your energy levels are likely to be the highest.  Dealing with that client may be manageable at 8:00 a.m.  Will it be at 3:00 p.m.?
  • Less stress.  When you put off the hard work, it weighs on you all day long.  You spend your day worrying, thinking, and waiting.  You’re never truly free, even if you are spending “free time”.  If you jump into action right away, you can get the work done and spend your free time actually relaxing and enjoying it.
  • Accepting yourself the way you are.  Even if you have every intention to work into the evening, it’s not likely to happen.  Before you know it, it’s time to go to bed, and you still have things to do on your checklist.  Knowing this about yourself, you can do the most important things first and not worry too much about what doesn’t get done.
  • Limit Fear. If you are putting off a task because you are scared of it, it is only going to get worse.  Fear grows the longer we have to think about what we’re afraid of.

Why We Put The Hardest/Most Important Work Off?

  • It’s not fun.  There are exceptions, but generally we put off work that isn’t interesting or stimulating to us.
  • Fear.  The more important something is, the more we feel expected to excel.  We don’t want to work through the fear, so we put it off for later in the day.
  • Distractions- We may plan on doing something first thing in the morning, but a new task gets thrown on our desk; we immediately start working on it, forgetting about the important task.

How to Get Things Done?

  • Schedule them.  Tasks that are scheduled have a far greater chance of getting done than tasks that aren’t.  Scheduling is a way of putting priority on a task and sending a signal to your brain, letting it know that it’s important.
  • Rewarding yourself. Try rewarding yourself with free time or fun time at the end of the day (as long as you get the important work done).  You will find you have more time for free time than you did before because you have an incentive to push through the work quickly, instead of thinking about it.
  • Take a deep breath and push through the fear.  There are always going to be things that we fear.  We tend to put those things off, thinking that we’ll be less scared later.  We won’t.   Sometimes there isn’t any advice, except to stop thinking and jump into action.
  • Accepting your character flaws. Each and every one of us have positive characteristics and negative characteristics.  Becoming aware of your flaws can help you plan accordingly so that they don’t run your life and hide your positive characteristics.

Changing the way you prioritize tasks is going to be difficult at first.  Don’t feel too guilty if you don’t reach your goals right away.  The more and more you stop procrastinating at work, the more it will turn into habit.  Soon you will be much more efficient, relaxed, and successful.
Photo Credit: gothick_matt via Compfight cc

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