It’s 4.22pm and you’re sitting at your desk wondering, where has the day gone?!
You’ve only done half of what you’ve planned. It’s a scenario that you’re probably quite intimate with.
Procrastination, it plagues us all. For some, it’s from time to time, for others, it’s a daily battle.
On our journey to understand it better, and to hopefully reduce or (is it even possible?) stop doing it altogether, we’ve gathered some valuable insights:
What is procrastination?
Essentially, it is the act of delaying something. Or postponing it. It's when you're planning to do something but then finding yourself putting it off, and often getting distracted by other things.
What's the trigger? Emotions versus Rationality
Firstly, it is usually an emotional trigger which causes us to avoid or delay doing a task/tasks. This in turn can make it difficult for us to analyze the trigger objectively, and therefore even more difficult for us to mitigate.
In order for us to be better at mitigating these triggers, let’s explore what they are and how they manifest.
Boring: “I don’t find this task intellectually stimulating enough. It’s so mundane!”
Frustrating: “The platform I use for this report is so buggy!”
Difficult: “This task seems hard and I think it’ll need a lot of my focus and time.. I’ll do something easier first...”
Ambiguous: “I don’t know what my manager wants from this infographic”
Stressful: “Last time I did this report my manager said it was rubbish, I don’t want to deal with that again”
Unstructured: “I don’t know how to create this infographic”
Unrewarding: “I know I won’t get any recognition for this, so what’s the point?”
Meaningless: “This project is not aligned to my role, or my goals. What’s the point?!”
Do any of these resonate? 🤔
It’s often that the trigger for procrastination is one or a combination of reasons. But alas, there is still hope! There are a lot of different approaches you can try when you feel yourself procrastinating.
Work out the source
You can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong. You need to spend some time to work out what the trigger/triggers are, and deal with them directly.
For example, if the task is ambiguous and you’re not sure what the goal is, ask your manager to provide the bigger picture. Get help from colleagues if it’s a new platform that you’ve never used. Try a new platform if the one you’re using is rubbish!
What works well for some, is to assign an Accountability Buddy. No, it’s not Ben from Accounts, although he may be a good option. What we mean is to call up a reliable friend, tell them what you need to do and by when, and ask them to check up on you. You can also do the same for them. This may help to keep you accountable as you do not want to let Bob from Accounts down!
Break the task down, again and again
It can be overwhelming when you look at the final task. Let’s say, write 20 blog pieces for Llama Life (😅 ). But it will feel a lot less overwhelming once you break that into smaller chunks of manageable tasks. Eg. Think of blog ideas. Research idea 1. Write draft. Edit etc. It’s satisfying ticking those smaller tasks off your to do list, knowing each tick is closer to the final goal!
Switch or reverse the triggers! Decide on a reward for completing a task if you feel the task is unrewarding. If the triggers are ambiguous or unstructured, outline the goal of the task, or create a quick plan of your approach. Can you make the boring task funner somehow?
Put tasks against each other
This may seem like an odd one, but stay with me. If you’ve got a list of tasks you need to do, and there are a few items you’ve procrastinated on - put them side by side, then pick one. This may help as you’ll most likely pick the easier option, and get that done. It may also help reframe that that task was doable afterall.
Remove the temptations
Miminize all possible distractions! Turn that phone off! Log of social media! Block time in your calendar so others can see you’re busy! Have a sign on your chair saying ‘Do not disturb!’.
At the end of the day, you are not alone when you find yourself procrastinating.
It is important to recognize when and why you’re procrastinating, but also, to be kind to yourself.
Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past, rather focus on reducing the likelihood of procrastinating in the future. Llama Life is a tool that may help you improve your productivity.
Good luck! 🦙