Procrastination, Part II: How to Conquer It

Yesterday, I shared with you the reasons I (and many others) procrastinate.

Instead of delaying a project as if it will magically disappear (wishful thinking), try the following six steps to banish procrastination. Because we all know that project isn’t going anywhere!

  1. Set a deadline. By establishing a day that activity must be completed, you are holding yourself accountable. There are parameters to work within, which makes it less likely for you to consistently say, “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
  2. Be vocal about that deadline. Let others know about the project you’re working on and your intentions. This way, your target is known and others will hold you accountable and encourage you as well. I mean, you can’t disappoint your colleagues? Your friends? Your archrival, right?
  3. Break it down. You’ve probably heard the saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” (one bite at a time.) This statement is applicable to a massive project as, if you break the project down into steps or manageable pieces, you don’t see it as a huge, insurmountable “elephant.” Once you have identified pieces of the project, you can then prioritize those components. The project then makes a lot more sense and seems more do-able – in other words, you have shoveled away at the mountain and now it’s just a molehill.
  4. Reward yourself. After you finish each step or phase of the project, keep the momentum and enthusiasm for it going by establishing a reward. In this way, you’re also establishing little milestones that help to measure your progress. If you don’t choose to reward yourself on a step-by-step or phase-by-phase way, at least establish a reward at the end of the project to motivate you and give you something to look forward to as you work through once dreaded tasks.
  5. Delegate. We can’t be good at everything. If you know others can take on specific responsibilities or areas of the project better than you, don’t be afraid to task said person to take on that phase or step in the project. This way you are leveraging the best of the best (the strengths of your team) to go toward the project, which will result in more successful outcomes – with the added benefit of generating more confidence in the project. After all, you have nothing to fear now that you have allies who can contribute their strengths and perhaps compensate for your weak(er) areas.
  6. Collaborate. Awhile back, I suggested you think in terms of “May I borrow Your Talent?” What I meant by that is we can’t live in isolation. To get the most out of a project, turn to those who are experts in specific areas. That way, when you get stuck on some area of the project that you don’t really know or don’t understand, you can “borrow” talent from that specialist. Within your network, and not necessarily on your team, are professionals who can help you. By “enlisting” them, you keep the project moving forward. You don’t lose traction, which makes it less likely for you to say the death-knell to any project: “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”

Look at this undertaking not as your simply working through it, but as achieving small wins and successes throughout the life of the project. And realize that you have both other people (see #2, #5 and #6) and tech tools (like your Outlook calendar with reminders to keep you on task) on your side. No one should fight procrastination alone.

Now, get to it!


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