Even though this site is all about helping you move from procrastination to action, there are times when procrastination can be a smart move.
We all have a drive to procrastinate – a resistance to getting down to the important things, a pressure toward more trivial tasks. The strength of that compulsion is an asset we can use to boost productivity, improve time management and simply get more done.
1. Identify Your Procrastinating Behaviors
How do you like to procrastinate? Typically, procrastinating behaviors are things you feel naturally inclined to do, things you gravitate toward, almost on autopilot.
For instance, common procrastinating behaviors include:
- Checking/updating Facebook
- Checking/updating Twitter
- Checking emails
- Making a cup of coffee/tea
- Going for a wander around the office
- Calling a friend
- Surfing the net
- Having a snack
- Doing a housework chore (if you work from home)
- Tidying your desk
- Searching online for tips to help you avoid procrastination 🙂
Make a list of things you like to do, especially those that help you avoid your high-priority tasks.
Now here’s the good news: You no longer have to feel bad about these procrastination behaviors. We’re going to harness their power to radically improve your productivity.
2. Identify Your Top Priority Tasks
Next, list tasks you need to complete to move forward on your key goals and objectives. These are often things you feel an aversion to – because they seem overwhelming, or difficult, or you simply don’t want to start.
The tasks you put on your list should be achievable in about 30-45 minutes. Not whole projects, but steps in projects.
For instance, your top-priority to-do items might include:
- Create a rough outline for an upcoming presentation
- List main thoughts for a proposal
- Send thank-you emails to this week’s prospects
- Write 2 pages of your novel
- Brainstorm the table of contents for your non-fiction book
- Call 3-7 prospects to request meetings
- Draft a press release.
Notice they’re all important tasks, but not time-consuming tasks. This is the secret to making procrastination work for you.
3. Earn Your Procrastination
We naturally want to do, and feel driven to perform, procrastinating behaviors – so we can use this motivation juice to power our more challenging tasks.
Before you let yourself engage in any procrastinating behavior, make yourself earn it with one of your top-priority tasks.
- Desperate to log on to Facebook? Create that presentation outline first. Then take 5 or 10 minutes to ‘procrastinate’ on Facebook.
- Want to call a friend and chat? You can do that for 5 or 10 minutes as soon as you’ve drafted your press release.
Because our top-priority tasks are now in achievable 30-45-minute chunks, the motivation juice will be enough to power us past inertia to the other side, where procrastination rewards await.
You might need to tweak the ratios of priority work to procrastination to suit yourself – but as long as you’re getting the important jobs done in good time, you may not want to be too hard on yourself. 🙂
How Will You Use This?
So that’s great news for those of us who struggle with procrastination – and who doesn’t? You needn’t see procrastination as your enemy any more. Use these steps to make it your friend – and turbo-charge your time management.
Now over to you – what will you use as procrastination rewards to power your top-priority tasks?
[Image: by royblumenthal]