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  • Writer's pictureDr. Cristina DiPietropolo

How to Defeat Procrastination Once and For All! Part 1



Introduction

We all struggle with procrastination at some point in our lives. It seems like putting off important tasks is a tendency no one is immune to, even though it significantly affects our productivity and overall well-being. I tend to be a serial procrastinator! I always have the best intentions, but life takes over, and I find myself stressed trying to meet deadlines. I tell myself over and over again, “I’ll do things differently next time,” but I don’t. While it’s important to understand why we procrastinate, learning how to overcome it is more important. In part one of this two-part series, we will focus on how to take one baby step at a time to prevent procrastination, boost productivity, and get more work done with less stress. Let’s get started!


Why do we put off important decisions or projects?

There are several reasons why procrastinators, myself included, put off important projects. Here are a few common reasons:

  • The absence of good habits and systems.[1] We lack discipline.

  • Intolerance for particular emotions.[1] We like to do things we enjoy and may not necessarily attach happiness to work or the project we are facing.

  • People obsessed with perfection often put off completing tasks because they may be uncertain about how to begin and have a fear of failure.[2]

  • Even the fear of potential success post-work can cause people to procrastinate. These are people that are afraid of the change that will happen if they deliver great work.

What are the dangers of procrastinating?

There are specific negative outcomes of procrastination that we should be aware of:

  • Procrastination may lead to higher levels of stress and bouts of illness. Been there and done that more times than I can count!

  • It can make people develop negative feelings about themselves.

  • Procrastination may lead to developing self-defeating behavior.

  • When you procrastinate, you might not deliver the required work quality expected for the project.

  • If you are working in a team, putting off work might increase the workload of others, leading to feelings of anxiety and resentment.

How can we force ourselves to do what is important?

The good news is that we can train our brains to focus on important work and improve how we get things done. Next time you find yourself slacking, reflect on these three practical ways to break the shackles of procrastination.


1. Why are YOU procrastinating?

We all procrastinate, but the reasons for ignoring or delaying tasks can differ for everyone. Ask yourself why you are procrastinating or what’s holding you back.[2] Identifying why you waste time will help keep you from deferring important work. Asking yourself this question may seem so obvious, but it will give you control over the situation and help break the cycle.


2. Create a schedule with deadlines

One of the simplest tricks to resist procrastination is following a schedule with clear deadlines for each task. Alice Boyes, a Harvard Business Review contributor, refers to this as deep work, the ability to focus on your most important long-term projects.[1] Break the project down into a few manageable modules and complete tasks in sequence. Now, this is the hard part, stick to the schedule! Complete the project a bit at a time as compared to doing it all at once to make things more manageable. Make sure you use visual cues that are readily available to you. For example, put an appointment in your Google calendar, or use a post-it on your desktop or laptop. Finally, create a system for starting new tasks. For example, think of two or three options for approaching the task or try to analyze any roadblocks you may encounter. Finally, think of a recent challenging task you’ve completed and reverse engineer it to identify all the steps it took for you to accomplish it.[1]


3. Use the reward psychology

What’s the point of getting things done? You will eventually have more work to do once you get over the current project. This unending loop makes work quite monotonous and pushes one away from the worktable. To curb this feeling, we suggest you increase the reward for completing a particular assignment. Focus on short-term incentives like a coffee break, a quick chat with a co-worker,[2] watching funny videos online, or indulging in a red velvet mini bundt cake (my absolute favorite). Get creative and think about the things you enjoy. The rewards will reenergize you, and the projects won’t feel boring anymore.


Final thoughts!

It’s human nature to put off an uncomfortable or undesirable task. We might even take the easy way out and make excuses for procrastinating on a project. However, if we want to achieve goals and engage in more meaningfulness in our work life, we need to be more strategic in navigating procrastination. When we understand the causes of our procrastination, we can use strategies that target them.[1]


Which of the above tactics did you like the most? Leave us a comment here. Also, don’t forget to check out other informative articles!


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Dr. Cristina Rosario DiPietropolo is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Leader Essentials Group, an executive consulting firm specialized in collaborating, developing, and executing strategies with its clients. Extensive experience across multiple industries and highly skilled in the areas of strategic planning, organizational behavior, human resource management, change management, leadership, and digital marketing. Over twelve years of teaching experience as a Professor of Management, with a special focus on organizational behavior, leadership in entrepreneurship, human resource management, and international management.

_________________________________________________________________________ [1]Boyes, A. (2022, June). How to stop procrastinating. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved February 2022, from https://hbr.org/2022/05/how-to-stop-procrastinating [2]Gallo, A. (2011, August). Stop Procrastinating...Now. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved February 2022, from https://hbr.org/2011/10/stop-procrastinatingnow

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