In task management, procrastination means delaying and postponing our tasks and duties. According to specialists, “I’ll do it later” may complicate our private and – first and foremost – professional lives. It can be difficult to stay motivated when there are so many other things competing for our attention, and it’s all too easy to put off important tasks until it’s too late. However, there are a few simple strategies that can help you overcome procrastination and get things done. One of the best solutions is to break down a task into smaller, more manageable steps. By taking things one step at a time, you can make progress without feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, setting deadlines and keeping a strict schedule can also be helpful in preventing procrastination. By holding yourself accountable, you’re more likely to stay on track and avoid putting things off until the last minute. Procrastination may always be a temptation, but with a little effort, it doesn’t have to control your life. That being said, the best solution is a good plan that allows for facilitating the entire checklist of project implementation. There is a set of good practices that helps to overcome it and become a productivity master.
Procrastination is the habit of delaying and postponing tasks
If we have a look at statistics and studies, it turns out that most of our contemporary society suffers from this disorder. According to brandongaille.com, this is as much as 1/4 of our population. Every fifth respondent declares that postponing tasks has had a very negative effect on their family life and professional life. As many as 95% of students suffer from procrastination. No wonder, then, that the disease is sometimes referred to as “student syndrome.” Many specialists claim that the main cause of this modern epidemic is the development of new technologies, which are very efficient at distracting us. According to the Procrastination Research Group, 46% of respondents claim that procrastination has a very negative effect on their sense of happiness.
Why do we keep postponing things?
There are a lot of reasons for postponing tasks for another day or even another week. First of all, we are afraid of failure or waiting for some inspiration. Nevertheless, postponing duties does not happen just like that. Usually, when we start to perform our tasks, we are filled with energy and we are willing to complete them, but as time passes by, the first signs of procrastination start to show, giving us the feeling that we need to postpone the deadline of our tasks. We do not put them off once; we postpone our tasks multiple times. Every deadline postponement results in an even higher sense of failure and builds an untrue belief in us that the task is immensely difficult.
It might be said that we do not have one main reason for procrastinating. We wait till the end for the performance of work, and it turns out that it is simply of poor quality, performed carelessly and inaccurately. What is worst in the situation is that we seek other tasks and distractors that we “must” perform at a given time. Such postponement gives a fleeting sense of relaxation, but eventually, it ends with a spectacular failure.
A good example might be Monday morning and a long to-do list. So we start by brewing some coffee, then we enter the social room, where we talk about the weekend, and then we come back to our desks. We sit at the computer and instead of tackling the to-do list, we decide that we must check our Facebook or read the news on a blog for cat fans.
Scientists claim that a lot of people who struggle with postponing their duties are perfectionists who want their task management to be perfect, and postponing might give some more time for an additional idea to emerge or some force to appear that will allow its perfect completion.
Three main reasons for procrastination are:
- fear of failure.
- need for additional stimulation
Bear in mind, though, that what cannot be confused are the following notions: planning and procrastination. In the case of planning, we also postpone the project deadline. The reason for this, however, is merely to gather the proper materials, knowledge, and resources to complete the project. In the case of procrastination, on the other hand, the final effect of postponing work is the loss of effectiveness and agency.
What fosters procrastination and how do you prevent it?
First and foremost, two causes can lead us to our professional failure. The first is the lack of the skill to plan tasks, the other is a very erroneous, negative attitude and thinking.
Let us start by having a closer look at the ill-skilled planning of our tasks. What is most important is to draft a to-do list. It has to contain all, even the tiniest, tasks that we want to complete. At the same time, we cannot have more duties on our to-do list than we can complete in a single day. A situation like this encourages procrastination because when we see a long list of tasks, we automatically doubt our ability to complete all of them.
A good solution could be to draft a to-do list with prioritized items, for instance:
- prepare materials for Friday’s presentation (important, but I can start on Wednesday);
- I will write a text for employees (important).
- Prepare for the training schedule (important);
- determine all tasks related to the training, complete all organization matters, meet with the room owner; book catering services (an important task, but to be broken down into several smaller ones or to be performed on one day when we do not have other tasks to do);
- meet with the commercial group (not so important);
- organize business trips (not critical; the time limit is 14 days).
Of course, this is a simplified outline, but it shows that we can postpone some tasks due to their deadlines or the necessity to invest more time in them. Breaking down larger tasks into smaller ones allows for their better completion. How to select the most important ones? Sometimes, a simple question helps: what do we have to do today in order not to go beyond the deadline, or what would I work on if I had 2-3 hours? Filtering tasks and prioritizing them is very helpful. IC Project is a very handy tool, where you can create checklists or place tasks on Kanban boards and set their deadlines.
A good practice that allows us to overcome “I’ll do it later” is a system of prizes, or small treats, which we use to motivate ourselves to work. It can be a cup of coffee, several minutes of cycling, or buying an e-book. The pricing system works very well in practice. Moreover, it is worth working at intervals. We decide that for the next hour or two we will be working on a task and we do not distract ourselves with Facebook and other distractions. We have a 15–30 minute break when we go to the social room, play a game on our smartphone, or just sit on a terrace with a cup of coffee.
Before we say goodbye, we have yet another hint for you. In his book Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy encourages us to start with the most difficult duties. Thanks to this, we will “eat our frog,” which will give us a sense of satisfaction and allow us to deal with the remaining tasks more easily and more quickly.
In addition, procrastination feeds on chaos and mess. It is common knowledge that everyone wants to have their treasury of things on their desk, but it creates an unnecessary mess at times. Specialists in fighting procrastination suggest having our computer, which is our work tool, a notebook, and a pen to put down the information and to create our to-do list, something to drink and snack on, and headphones. The last item is intended for people who work while listening to music or use it to cut off external stimuli. If we work with paper documents, we should sort them out at once so as not to generate chaos.
We already said that what brings on procrastination is negative thinking. And it is true. If we assume at the start that the task we have to perform will be difficult, tiring, and boring, instead of focusing on completing it quickly, we will drag it away into eternity. We can also assume that we do not do the task well or perfectly (in the case of perfectionists). Such negative thinking must be replaced with a willingness to act and an attempt to focus on smaller chunks of the whole task. The performance of such smaller chunks will allow us to complete the task well and on time.
How do treat procrastination as a disease?
Let us start by saying that procrastination can be overcome. First of all, it is worth thinking over what brings us into such a state of mind. Maybe we have too many duties or skills too low to fulfill our obligations? Finding the problem is the first step to success. Another thing is, as we have already mentioned, task planning. When we do not have tasks assigned to ourselves, we cannot decide on our priorities, and it is much easier for us to throw responsibility off onto others. Focus and kicking bad habits are also important. However, if this does not help, it is worth consulting a specialist. Proper therapy will help us find the source of the problem and start the fight against procrastination. This step may be our last resort if we can not deal with procrastination on our own.
Good habits vs bad habits
Have you ever wondered how some people seem to get so much done? They might have an amazing work ethic, or they might simply have developed good habits that help them to be productive. If you’re looking to boost your productivity, one place to start is by tracking your work time. This can help you to identify any areas where you’re wasting time, and it can also give you a clear picture of how much time you have available to complete tasks. Once you know where your time is going, you can start to project good habits and make sure that you’re using your time as efficiently as possible. By developing good habits and good work organization, you can make sure that you’re always making the most of your time.
Project management good habits
What are the things you can alter about your working style here to handle chores more successfully? Concentrate on the routine tasks that we perform without thinking about them. What to get rid of is listed below:
Never-ending e-mail checking
Do not browse your e-mail all the time. Do it 3-4 times a day and answer then. When you focus on the most important task, turn off your e-mail or pop-ups announcing new messages.
Chaos on your desk and in your documents
Put things back in their place. Take care of the order on and around the desk. The space needs to be clean and well-organized. A lack of distractors will help you focus your attention.
If the nature of your job allows you to do so, isolate yourself for an hour or two and do not answer your phone: it will be easier for you to finish your task. A phone call can knock you out of your working rhythm. Sometimes it is better to call back later.
Soaking up useless information
In the era of information flooding us from all sides, filter them and do not spend time reading necessary content. Focus on the information you can use somehow. Do not worry that you will miss out on something important. If a truly important piece of information appears, you will hear about it from others anyway.
Using social media
Do not check social media and private messages at work. Block access to internet websites that you visit often and are tempted to visit at work as well.
If you need to focus on an important task and your co-workers are talking, do not fear to be assertive and politely explain that you cannot talk right now. You can also isolate yourself by listening to music using headphones. An interesting solution is to introduce a code, so to speak: both headphones on mean that right now you are not to be disturbed; one headphone on means that you can be disturbed if there is an important matter to talk about and no headphones on means that you can talk freely.
Good habits that are worth introducing to your everyday functioning
Have a good sleep
A deficiency or poor quality of sleep limits your ability to concentrate. Hence, you are less productive, which hurts your work. Sleep for as many hours as you need and, if necessary, take a nap during the day, which may help you regain your energy.
Remember that food has a direct effect on your cognitive abilities and productivity. In short: do not avoid breakfast, select nutritious products, eat vegetables, drink water, and above all – eat regularly.
Listen to valuable podcasts and audiobooks
Commuting to work, stuck in traffic, cleaning, cooking, or exercising at the gym, you can listen to interesting books and interviews. This will help you develop creativity and improve your memory and you will learn a lot of interesting things. You will spend time more effectively than e.g. listening to the same music on the radio over and over again. Inspire yourself.
“Declutter” your mind of ideas and solutions which occurred to you during the entire day. Do it every day. Write them down somewhere. Storing them in your head results makes some of them disappear forever. In addition, when you have your ideas written down in one place, you can look for links between them.
Surround yourself with plants
Nature has great power. Even a small plant put on your desk can have a positive impact on your work.
Good project management habits
To be successful, project managers need to be able to establish good habits. One of the most important habits for project managers is to develop a clear and concise project plan. The project plan should include all of the objectives of the project, as well as the timeline, budget, and resources required. Once the project plan is in place, project managers need to be disciplined in following it. This means adhering to the schedule and ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. Additionally, project managers need to continuously monitor the project’s progress and make adjustments as necessary. By developing these project good habits, project managers can increase their chances of success.
Best 3 ways to overcome “I’ll do it later” in 2022
“I’ll do it later” in task management is so common that a professional term was coined for it: procrastination. Unfortunately, leaving things for later often turns into plan failure and can be a significant obstacle on the way to effectiveness and efficiency, especially when it concerns people running their businesses or performing functions that require making key decisions. Procrastination kills regularity, reduces alertness, and breaks down your plans. It is not difficult to imagine potential consequences for a company or project resulting from such negligence. Fortunately, it can be avoided. How? Learn about three steps that will make it easier for you to stop putting tasks off for later.
Step 1: I’ll do it later? Think about why you are reluctant to do it at a given moment.
The fear of plan failure, poor work organization, perception of task management as a particularly difficult one, or incorrect estimation of the time necessary for its completion-the reasons for placing new tasks on the shelf marked “one day I’ll certainly do it” can vary. However, without identification of the enemy, it is hard to choose the right strategy to fight him. If something seems to be too complex for you, divide it into smaller, easier tasks that will lead you to your goal. Always organize your to-do list according to the criterion of priority; this will make it difficult for you to deceive yourself that something is less important and can be done later. The problem with the definition of timeframe can be, in turn, solved with the measurement of the completion time of particular tasks. If you use IC Project, you can do it easily with the Clock module.
Step 2: Learn about the negative consequences of procrastination.
The effects of procrastination are not always immediately visible. The relief resulting from delaying a difficult task is temporary, and the consequences can be serious. Maybe you have experienced a situation when the vision of additional costs connected with the employment of a new person made you unable to make any decisions for a month, resulting in impeded company development. Think of a situation when you lost a client only because the offer that was supposed to be perfect finally was not completed or it was prepared at the very last moment and turned out to not be good enough. Not nice, right? Therefore, before you get tempted to put something off, think of the negative consequences it brings.
Step 3: Just start acting!
You must understand the reasons why and become aware of potential losses resulting from putting a specific task off. There is no better strategy to fight it than… starting the activity. If the whole project seems to be too scary, it is worth choosing the easiest task for the start. Do you need to write something down? Open a Word document. Do you tend to put off transfers? Start by logging into the bank. The performance of the first, even the smallest step, will make a given task become something more than just one of the points on your checklist – it will become more real. By turning it into a specific process, you will find it easier to commit to further activities.
Breaking up with procrastination and replacing it with a habit of getting down to things straight away is not easy, but possible. Contrary to appearances, it is a matter of deciding which… should not be put off. What allows us to get rid of the unwanted habit of “I’ll do it later” is the awareness of the things that make us chronically put some tasks off as well as perseverance in self-improvement.