Stop Procrastinating: You Can Do It If You Put Your Mind To It!
By Karla Brandau
It happened the first time your mother told you to clean your bedroom: Procrastination. Perhaps you were overwhelmed with so many things out of place that you didn't know where to start. Maybe it was resistance to authority. It could have been the victim syndrome and if you were powerful like mommy, you wouldn't have to do this.
You may have been frozen in space because you didn't see the assignment just as straightening the room but PERFECTLY organizing everything which would require the cleaning of every closet and drawer.
Another option is the dejected feeling of all work and no play. Interestingly enough, procrastination at work is not much different. When you feel the ominous black cloud of overload, the same reasons pop up and negative self-talk kicks in:
- Being overwhelmed - "I don't know where to start! I just keep getting more work piled on me. How can I organize this?"
- Resistance to authority - "That manager never considers my time frames or viewpoints. He will just have to wait until next week for me to finish this."
- Victim syndrome - "Someday I will be powerful enough that I won't have to do this routine, boring work."
- Perfectionism - "There can be NO mistakes in this. I'll just die if anyone finds an error."
- All Work and No Play - "All I ever do is work. I'll have to stay late again to finish this which means I'll miss girl's night out with the gang."
- Overwhelmed - For that overwhelmed feeling, remember to line your tasks and projects up one by one. Once your tasks and projects are lined up in a sequential order that makes sense given your deadlines, break them down into logical steps. Next, identify the first step: an instant start-up task. An instant start up task is something that will only take you 3-5 minutes. Once you dive into a small 3-5 minutes task, you will become so engaged that moving through the next, longer two and sometime three steps is child's play.
- Resistance to Authority - Getting even with a manager by turning in work later than requested or expected never works. It sabotages you! Face it - no one likes being told what to do because as freedom seeking beings we value our autonomy. A pretty normal human reaction to authority is to rebel much like the child in school who resists what parents, teachers and principals tell them to do.As an adult in the workplace we can see this resistance to authority as it is: childish. Exercise your autonomy: Make a conscious choice to do the work, finish on time and produce excellent quality. This will earn respect.
- Victim Syndrome - Victimhood will never be a productive state to work in. Thinking you are a victim slows your mental acuity and destroys your decision making ability. To eliminate victimhood, use the technique that works for resistance to authority. Say to yourself, "I choose to do this!" Watch the difference it makes in your energy level, your attitude, and your resolve to finish.
- Perfectionism - Those who have the mindset that every single phrase, word, and formatting decision must be perfect are often frozen into procrastination by their perfectionism. They resist starting because trying to make every single detail perfect gives them burnout. Accept the fact that you are human and will make errors and misjudgments. These can be fixed when they are pointed out. Remember that those who aim for excellence produce exceptional work while those who aim for absolute perfection become neurotic.
- All Work and No Play - When the basketball team gets rattled, the coach always calls a time out to settle emotions and give instructive words. In the intensity of your work day, you can get flustered and need a time out as well. All work may not make 'Jack a dull boy', but it definitely dulls your spirit and makes you crave some play. Balance an intense period of production with a few minutes of sharing a joke with a team member or a trip to the break room for your favorite drink. Find some way to reward yourself for finishing planned work in the time allotted and you'll be more energized throughout your day.
Karla Brandau, Certified Speaking Professional, is a workplace consultant and an expert in leadership and professional development. She works with organizations who want to be competitive in the 21st century global marketplace. Sign up for her monthly newsletter, From the Desk of Karla Brandau by going to Karla Brandau.com. Contact Karla at 770-923-0883 for a free consultation or to check the availability of dates to bring Karla to your organization.
Use the poster below to remind you of the antidotes to procrastination. Put your mind to it and you can do it!