There's no limit to what people procrastinate about - reports, admin, clutter clearing, exercise, making necessary calls, fixing appointments. But there's a common factor about all procrastination - whatever's put off will eventually have to be done.
We procrastinate for all sorts of reasons - lack of confidence, emotional baggage, stress, time restraints, resistance and distraction, to name a few. And the more you procrastinate, the more difficult the situation becomes, and these feelings get worse.
Procrastinating about something that you must do eventually will result in a negative state of mind. For a start, every time you think about what you're avoiding, it drains a little energy. It's like leaving the interior boot light on all the time in a car - little by little it drains the energy from the main battery.
And then there are the feelings of guilt, not to mention the further problems the procrastinating may be creating. Each of these is a drain for your time and energy. As Edward Young once said: 'Procrastination is the thief of time'.
Most people know very well what they procrastinate about, but if you're not sure, watch out for when you regularly get distracted and do something much less important but more enjoyable.
So how can you stop yourself procrastinating and become more productive? Download the attached Procrastination Buster! worksheet (PDF format) and read on! You will be more productive and feel great about what you have achieved.
Start by breaking a task down into smaller components and only allowing yourself a set amount of time - say half an hour or 20 minutes - to get as far as you can. By doing this, you are giving your mind more manageable tasks which it will be happier to start, rather than a mountainous assignment which has to be finished.
In some ways, your mind is like a child. Give it the chance, and it will go off and play if things get boring or difficult. But keep it interested with variety and things requiring a shorter attention span and you're more likely to keep it at work!
For example, if you have a report or proposal to write, just sitting down and starting can feel like too much and you may start looking for distractions. However, if you were to split the task into say five sections, giving yourself just half an hour on each section, you'd probably have a good draft within 2.5 hours.
Or you could break it down even further than that. Allow yourself half an hour to do a number of different tasks. For example, spend half an hour each on the report, emails, making calls, admin, taking a break. At the end of 2.5 hours you'd have got the report started, plus you will have had focused time on other tasks.
Once you have completed one circuit of tasks, you start at the beginning and work through again, ticking off the time segments as you go.
There are a few simple but vital rules to this way of working:
If there is a task(s) you really can't face even using this great exercise, a session of Thought Field Therapy and/or The Sedona Method can help dissolve the block or resistance. Cold calling, calling difficult clients/customers and writing often fall into this category.
If you enjoy this exercise, you might like to read Rob Forster's 'Get Everything Done and Still Have Time to Play' which offers greater insight into this way of working plus many other brilliant exercises.