Even peak performers find themselves putting off a project until it gets dangerously close to the deadline. You may procrastinate for the following reasons:
- You find yourself being pulled away from starting a project to deal with more pressing and urgent matters.
- You are not motivated to begin because the project in question involves tasks that are outside of your areas of strength.
- You are stressed or fatigued from other responsibilities.
- You are distracted due to personal circumstances.
The first step to solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. If you have deadlines that you are missing or are feeling overwhelmed with getting started on a project, consider following these tips for overcoming procrastination and staying on top of your workload.
- Get organized. Make a list of all of your upcoming projects and tasks with associated deadlines. You may want to operate on a quarterly basis so that you have enough time to lay out all of the associated tasks in a timely manner.
- Break projects down into manageable milestones. Don’t just write the due date on your calendar and wait for it to approach; break the work down into steps along the way and give yourself mini-deadlines for completion as you work your way toward the hard deadline.
- Avoid distractions. Instead of getting sidetracked checking email or browsing social sites, organize your day with some time provided to do each of these things, giving your important project the bulk of your time and attention. For instance, perhaps a 15-minute social break at the end of a focused work session will give you just enough down time to complete the necessary steps to finish your project.
- Build in accountability. Make your mini-deadlines public to others on your team or to a trusted advisor who can give you feedback on your progress. It’s much more difficult to put off the work when other people are expecting to see deliverables along the way.
- Adopt a “Do it now” mentality. Simply put, stop putting things off and do the small stuff now. If you see something out of place, put it away. If you get a bill in the mail, pay it right away instead of adding it to a pile. Regular practice of this principle will bubble over into larger tasks that take more time and help you overcome procrastination for good.