Do you need help to overcome procrastination? Do you find that the number of tasks you need to complete feel impossible to achieve? The idea of putting off a task until a later date seems the easy option, but one day turns into a week, and pretty soon you have fallen behind on too many tasks to ever get caught up properly.
There are three simple techniques that can help you overcome this habit of procrastinating , which is the sworn enemy of productivity and has often be sited as the reason behind a career being derailed. If you are able to stay on top of your duties as a manager day in and day out, you will keep up with deadlines and never feel the pressure that comes with putting off important jobs.
While we all know that we shouldn’t procrastinate, sometimes it is hard to make the right decision and tackle the problems that are in front of us. This can be especially difficult for someone in a management position who might have difficult decisions to make that have real-world consequences for the staff and the business as a whole.
If you are someone that is prone to procrastinate over how to perform your tasks, consider the following simple methods of getting things done in a timely and productive manner.
Morning To-Do List
One effective method of staying on track is to make a to-do list each morning when you begin work. That list will include everything you need to do that day, including work duties and personal ones. When you look at it with fresh eyes first thing in the morning, you can logically prioritize the tasks and check them off one by one. If you wait until later in the day to get a list together, you might be feeling overloaded, stressed or tired and decide to put some of it off for another day.
Get in a routine of making your list while doing something relaxing like having a cup of coffee at your desk before you start on your emails. This will get your morning off on the right foot, and set you up for a day of productivity.
Hardest Tasks First
The human brain naturally fatigues during the day and it gets harder the think clearly, even under good circumstances. If you hold a stressful position that requires you to be going in many different directions at once, your brain will fatigue even faster during the day. If you wait to do your hardest tasks until the end of the day, you will have more trouble with them and likely end up frustrated.
By using the to-do list method to get your tasks done, you can aim to tackle the easy ones at the end of the day. You won’t need to think as much and you can coast through the finish line. Having the hard tasks complete and in your rearview mirror is a good feeling that will propel you to complete the rest of your list.
Sometimes, we just get stuck on a task and can’t figure out how to solve the problem. For cases like this, a ten-minute rule is a good idea. The method is simple – start working on your challenging task and keep an eye on the clock. If you spend ten minutes on it and are unable to make any headway at all, stop. From there, you can either ask someone for assistance or just take a break and come back to it later.
Staring at the same project for hours on end with no progress will make you frustrated and waste time in the process. Stick with the ten-minute rule when dealing with a stubborn task and you won’t waste you whole day on any one job.
Procrastination is a minor habit that can turn into a major problem. Your job performance can be destroyed by too much procrastination, especially on tasks that have specific timelines associated with them. If you want to know more about breaking this habit then download our free eBook ‘Overcoming Procrastination’.
By having a plan in place to monitor your procrastination, you can slowly change your habits to where you are no longer tempted to put things off for another day. Remember, work you finish today doesn’t have to be done tomorrow, and that is a good feeling. Use these procrastination technique to stay on task and keep your career pointed in the right direction.
Everyone has a task, or two, on their ‘To Do’ list that they’d rather just forget or ignore. No matter what tactic you use it never goes away and eventually you just have to do it!
Leaving those boring or pointless tasks to the last minute often made me feel resentful. Then one day a colleague helped me to see how destructive my attitude was and gave me some excellent advice.
‘Stop wasting precious time berating the fact that I’d got a boring task. Instead use that time to decide which way to get it crossed of my list!’ Essentially there are three ways to approach such tasks and portray a professional image. You can meet it head on, develop through delegation, or break it into motivational chunks.
This made me realize that the way I was managing myself was visible to others and if I continued with this mode I would damage my prospects. So why I was letting my emotions manage me and not the other way around. To find the answers I looked at how my self-management image was perceived by others and ended up creating my own Self-Management Checklist to assess this.
Meet it Head on
That is when I developed my three pronged attacked for those boring tasks we all have. My first one it just to meet the problem head on and avoid any procrastination. The task may lack any challenge or be routine but it does fit into the ‘bigger picture’ of why my role is needed.
I know what needs to be done to perform it so check there are no new requirements, don’t make assumptions nothing has changes. Set a time aside and focus on completing the work needed in that time allocated, getting the task done.
Double ‘D’ Approach
Can this task be given to another person? By delegating this task does it develop them? If I got a Yes to my double ‘D’ question my approach was to then plan how and when to assign this task.
This did not get me off the hook, I was still the one responsible for completing the task, but I no longer had to perform all the work. My role became one of giving a good brief and monitoring its progress following the principles of delegation.
Break into chunks
If neither of these approaches suited the nature of the boring task then my final strategy was to break the task down into workable chunks. By carefully planning my time for each chunk I was able to complete the task and keep focused without falling into my old trap of procrastination.
Sometimes the chunks would involve looking for ways to use others’ expertise to accomplish the task bringing a new perspective in the process. Each chunk of work focused my energy and attention in a positive way showing my adaptability and initiative.
Learning how to control the influence my emotions had on my approach to a task enabled me to channel my energies into performing the task or resolving a problem remaining motivated throughout.
Overcoming my habit of procrastination played a key role in each of these strategies. Click on the button to download our free Procrastination eBook.
Setting goals that motivate people is not easy and requires effort and good judgment. Many people confuse goal setting with wishful thinking and you can see examples of this in organizational and departmental mission statements that are usually so vague as to be virtually meaningless. Some examples, taken from Fortune 500 companies, include:
These mission statements are fairly typical and whilst there is nothing wrong with them per se, they seldom inspire anyone to do anything specific to help achieve them. If a goal is to be motivational then it must have an objective that is clear and well specified in what should be achieved; it must identify exactly what needs to be done and in what timeframe. It must also define a clear outcome that is measurable and can be assessed.
SMART Goals Template
This template will enable you to test the goals you have been set or have given yourself against the five criteria of the SMART method.
PDF & Doc
Having measurable goals is important for a number of reasons. Here are just a few ways in which having goals that you can measure will benefit you, as opposed to having goals that you cannot measure.
1. They Allow You To Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress is very important. We briefly touched on this before, but it still bears repeating, just because it is such a crucial thing to remember. If you can’t track your progress, then what hope are you going to have of staying committed to your goals?
2. They Help To Motivate You
Having measurable goals is also great because they can help to motivate you as you make progress. Checking parts of your goal off of your list can often bring you a tremendous sense of accomplishment, which will be greatly diminished or missing entirely if you don’t set measurable goals for yourself.
Staying motivated is half the battle, no matter what you are trying to accomplish…so make it a point to set measurable goals that will allow you to see your progress as you check them off.
3. They Are More Specific
One interesting thing about measurable goals is the fact that they are generally more specific than goals that are not as measurable. This is because, in order to include a measurability factor into your goal, you need to include more information… and this is actually a good thing, not just for tracking your progress, but for setting goals in general.
Setting more specific goals is a great way to stay on track and to ensure that you are putting effort where it NEEDS to go. It can get very difficult to stay constantly motivated towards the end goal if your short-term goals are not specifically pointing you to it, so make sure to include as much information with your goals as possible when you write them down, as this will make for a more specific, efficient flow of productivity.
Being able to recognize when you have achieved your goal is the sign that you have a set a SMART goal that matches all the five aspects it requires. Clear goals are also extremely useful tools in assisting you in motivating and informing other individuals who may help you to achieve your goal. Indeed, it for this reason that sharing your goals, especially in the workplace, is highly advantageous and motivates and focuses not only yourself but others too. The term SMART is an acronym for:
Very often, when you examine a particular goal, you will find that it can be broken down into separate, more specific goals. The first step in this process is to ask the five ‘W’ questions:
• What: What do I want to accomplish?
• Why: Specific reasons for accomplishing the goal.
• Who: Who is involved?
• Where: Identify a location.
• Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
In most cases only some of these will be relevant but you should mentally check through all of them to make sure that you are not missing anything. For example, when considering the goal, ‘Improve customer technical support enquiry processing’ you should consider all of the following:
In this example, you might decide that the biggest gains to the business will be achieved by reducing the time it takes for a customer to receive a return call from the relevant account manager. You want to do this because some customers have been complaining about the time it takes to resolve technical issues. This information is appearing on Internet forums as well as user group meetings. You feel that it is damaging the reputation of the company. Action could be taken at several points in the process and at several places; the initial customer training could be improved, the website technical support could be more comprehensive, or you could implement a better system for covering the absence of particular account managers, and so on.
In fact thinking in these terms might lead you to consider setting several more specific goals rather than one overarching one. For example:
Each of these specific goals impacts on different people and different areas within the business. For example, Point 1 would involve the training department and the technical support department; Point 2 would involve the technical support department only; and Point 3 would involve the account managers and an administrator.
In this example, even though your own goal is ‘to improve customer technical support enquiry processing’ you have identified three separate tasks, which could be delegated once you have specified them more fully.
The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team is making progress towards successful completion. Measuring progress will help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the sense of achievement that spurs it on to the continued effort that is required to reach the goal. A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
Whatever format best suits your particular goal will enable you to judge and assess your progress, as you move towards attaining it. It also gives you a real focus on what you have to achieve in certain timeframes, and offers you the opportunity to celebrate that achievement.
Attainable or Achievable
There is little point in setting a goal that is either too difficult to achieve or beyond your capabilities, as this will only serve to de-motivate you and destroy your self-confidence. When setting a goal you must use your knowledge and current skills as a barometer for ensuring that the goal is ‘attainable.’ When setting ‘attainable’ goals in the workplace you must also ensure that sufficient resources are at your disposal and that your workload can accommodate this new requirement.
Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, and your organization will receive the needed support. A relevant goal can answer ‘yes’ to these questions:
Relevant goals drive the team, department, and organization forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal. It is careful analysis of what you want to achieve and where you wish to be that will determine the relevance of your goals. In the workplace, as part of this process, you will need to review any goal you establish against the organization’s mission statement and your own personal objectives, as well as the role you perform.
It is essential that goals have a timeframe or target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a team focus their efforts towards completion of the goal and prevents goals from being overtaken by other, unrelated routine tasks that may arise. A time-restrained goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency. It is this aspect of using the SMART technique to decide upon a goal that brings it into focus and offers a challenge.
Goal Setting eBook
This eBook explains how to use the theory of goal setting to set practical targets for you and your team members.
ISBN 978-1-62620-980-0 (32 Pages) PDF, Kindle & ePub