Everyone experiences it – knowing something needs to be done but finding every possible reason not to do it. Eventually, the deadline looms and we do it – or we don’t, in which case it probably wasn’t that important anyway. Like most business problems, getting out of the rut requires a clear strategy. Here’s how we break the procrastination cycle at Bellrock.
Write it Down – List Magic
For many procrastinators, creating a list is itself a form of procrastination. But not this kind of list. A “Prioritized To Do List” breaks through the vagueness that typically surrounds procrastination (prepare the business plan, complete expense report, visit friend’s new baby) and puts some structure around the task. It looks like this:
NB: Remember to break the “What” into bite sized tasks that you can complete in around 25 minutes. “Prepare the Business Plan” is too big a task; it’s doomed to place you in procrastination purgatory. Creating sub-tasks (create the 3 year historical model, identify 5 Unique Selling Propositions, brainstorm SWOT) makes the larger task more manageable and allows you to make tangible progress that should feed your need for success.
Schedule the Start – AKA Faking the Deadline
Usually, the panic from the lizard brain kicks in when it is almost, nearly, but not quite impossible to complete the task. Fake the deadline by scheduling the start date and fake out the lizard.
Pomodoros are lifesavers. They force you to work even when you don’t feel like working, and it is shocking how much you can accomplish in just one set. The Pomodoro Technique recommends you focus your attention for 25-minute intervals and then stop whatever you are doing and do something else for five minutes. Stretch. Grab a glass of water. Day dream. Stand up. Then get back to it for another 25 minutes, and repeat for four reps.
Now that you’ve accomplished some meaningful work, go do something that you would have previously done during procrastination time – like go to the gym or clean your office. Do the stuff that feels like working, but that you usually do to avoid your most important work. That way, it won’t be there tempting you next time.
Or go have some fun. You deserve it.