Successfully completing procrastination

What was known a few years ago as postponementitis or postponement egg, has now received its own technical term: Procrastination. This sounds complicated and is remotely reminiscent of a disease, but nothing has changed in the matter itself. An unbelievable number of people are struggling with it: they postpone important and unpleasant tasks until it is (almost) already too late. Not only schoolchildren and students can tell you about this, procrastination is also a common phenomenon in the working world - because it is all too human. But there are good strategies to get rid of this behaviour and finally become more productive. Tips on how to fight the eternal procrastination can be found in our blog post. Constant procrastination can cost you your studies or decide on the success of important projects in your working life, so the topic should not be taken lightly. Everyone can best judge for themselves how much they suffer from procrastination. All it takes is a little honesty.
Woman throwing paper aeroplanes.

Tips against procrastination

First of all, we have to say goodbye to the idea of perfection. Many people postpone their tasks because their demands on themselves are simply too high. Therefore, the first tip is: have the courage to leave the gap. The vast majority of tasks are not about solving them perfectly, but about completing them sufficiently well, correctly - and above all on time. The perfectionism you have set for yourself is not even in demand in many areas and is therefore out of place. A large part of the stress that people experience at work is often caused by setting the goals or the bar too high. If things do not work out as well and as quickly as hoped, motivation quickly dwindles, which can be fatal for the project in question. It can be observed that people procrastinate the more the higher their expectations and demands are. Large tasks have an intimidating effect, while feasible tasks have this effect much less. Therefore, always decide first whether the task in question really has to be completed to perfection or whether a simple and efficient solution is more effective.

Step by step to the goal

Surely you have heard of the salami principle. It starts at the same point: too big a task is a deterrent and leads to procrastination. So treat your projects like a salami: you do not eat them in one piece, but cut them into small bite-sized slices. So divide your tasks into subtasks, sub-projects and sections, so that you can tackle each subtask individually. In this way you will have the motivation to complete a section quickly and experience a certain feeling of success each time, which is motivating. The third tip starts at another point: If an attack is not possible, run away. If nothing more works, a little distance from the stress and the tasks you are putting off might be the right approach. Take a deep breath, walk around the block, have a cup of tea and think for a moment about something that makes you smile. Then come back and look at your tasks from a new perspective. Try to break out of an impasse in your thoughts and perhaps discover a completely new and simple solution.

Planning and strategy

Once the tasks have been efficiently divided up and cut into handy morsels, the next step is to make a plan for the completion of all these tasks. A weekly schedule is a good option because it covers more than just one day and still includes a clear time period. So you make a to-do list and estimate how much time you need for each task. The strategy also includes some tricks to outwit yourself. A simple but efficient tip is to clear out your desk so that nothing distracts you from your plans and your weekly schedule. It sounds silly, but it actually works. Put your phone in the drawer and close your Internet browser to avoid checking every 10 minutes to see if there is any distraction on the Internet. If your desk now only contains the documents you need for the next task, it's much harder to put them off any longer. By the way, the tip about keeping things in order applies not only to the actual desk, but also to the desktop on the screen and, for example, to the inbox in Outlook. Everything that can distract should be banned. Also switch off the message tones. Every sound that announces the arrival of a new message, for example, is a new source of distraction. After completing your current task, you can still respond quickly if an important e-mail arrives. No one asks a question by email that needs to be answered within seconds.  We often only put ourselves under this pressure.

Use psychological tricks

To motivate yourself, little tricks help. For example, a to-do list is helpful, from which you can actually cross out a point after each section. This is most satisfying with a pen on actual paper. Lists in the computer create less of that "done, done, done..." feeling that provides motivation. It also helps to set deadlines. Hardly anyone is highly motivated unless there is at least a little time pressure. You can, for example, make an appointment with a colleague for an intermediate discussion on the project and then set yourself the goal of completing a certain part by the deadline. This creates a little pressure, but no drama if it doesn't work out. Another little trick is to create variety. Mix your tasks so that you don't have to spend hours doing similar things. Push active moments between phases of long sitting or writing. This not only challenges your body, but is also good for the brain.

Author: IAPM intern

Keywords: Personal development, Project Management, Procrastination, Psychology

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