by Lisbeth O’Malley, Employee Development Specialist, Beaumont Health System
Procrastination has invaded our land. It has become increasingly hard to focus on what we need to do, what with Facebook, Twitter, the Internet, smart phones, you name it. We have more distraction today than we have ever had.
And yet – that’s not what is causing us to put things off. It’s just easy to place blame there. Procrastination has been around for years. It is a habit and a behavior that we learn, and so, can unlearn. Deciding to get in and do what needs to be done can be as simple as following a few steps.
Those of you that have been in some of my classes regarding time management, life effectiveness and balance have heard me say “EAT THE FROG!” The old saying is:
If the first thing you do each morning is eat the ugly frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that this is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long! And if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first!
So… what does this really mean? In the grand scheme of things, we generally procrastinate on the things that we don’t want to do. No one puts off the fun stuff! We procrastinate to avoid the pain of eating that frog. We may think it’s too hard, or will take too much time, or we won’t do it the way it “should” be done. In reality – we just put it off because it’s ugly! So, let’s get to eating those frogs!
Rule 1: Start the day with a plan
Write it down. Make a list. Prioritize your list. Make sure that you include some fun, easy things on the list.
What is the ugliest, nastiest frog in your inbox? Do that first! Don’t underestimate the time that it will take to do it. Estimate what it will take, and increase that by 100%.
Find YOUR best time of day to execute the task. Being a morning person, I know that my energy is at its best first thing. If you are a slow starter, give yourself one small thing to get you going. And get in there and get those things crossed off!
Rule 2: Make the job smaller
Set a timer. I used to have my kids do a “10 Minute Tidy-Up” when they were little. Once you get started, if you want to stop after the ten minutes, so be it. But generally that accomplished feeling starts to set in, and often, you find you’ve finished the task! And if not – at least you’ve started. So give yourself a time limit to at least get the table set to eat the frog.
Rule 3: Create an audience
This can be virtual or real, but get someone else to whom to be accountable. Share the load. “I’ll hold you to your time frame, if you do the same for me!” There is safety in numbers! It’s good, positive pressure.
Rule 4: Jump in
Trust yourself. Realize that you have chosen, or were given, this task for a reason. Don’t expect perfection. We are human, fallible creatures. Try your hardest. Just do it! Imagine the wonderful feeling of having it off your plate. Picture what reward you will give yourself once you’ve done it. It can be as simple as getting that cup of coffee, or as elaborate as the mani/pedi you’ve been looking forward to (especially you guys out there!)
So, to all of you habitual procrastinators out there – you really do not work better under pressure. You really do not love that feeling. You really are not getting interrupted. You are choosing this…
Get in there and get yourself a frog! And eat the ugliest one first!