While some people are more prone to falling victim to it than others, procrastination is something every professional has experienced. With multiple electronic devices, social media platforms and chatty co-workers competing for our interest during the workday, chronic procrastination has become a serious issue for some professionals.
When putting things off becomes such a problem that you’re unable to catch up on your work, you need to find a way to overcome it. Here, 11 members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss ways to overcome chronic procrastination and be more focused.
1. Set One Priority Every Day
Make your top daily priority something that really matters, something that has an impact. Usually, these are tasks that require 60 to 90 minutes of deep work. That’s why they get postponed a lot. Don’t finish work for the day until you have done that one thing. If you have a task that requires several hours of deep work, break it down into 90-minute chunks. - Rajeev Shroff, Cupela Consulting
2. Reconnect With Your Values
Chronic procrastination can be linked to the source of motivation to perform a task, particularly if it is external and rooted in a sense of obligation or expectation. Helping someone reconnect with their values—to what is important to them—and figure how this can be applied to their work can help them recreate meaning in their work and rediscover what brings them the energy to move. - Palena Neale, unabridged
3. Develop Strategies To Break Patterns
Procrastination is a form of avoidance that can become habitual. It is important to be aware of your patterns and develop strategies to move out of this state. To combat procrastination, you can implement several alternative actions, such as minimizing environmental distractions, breaking down your work into achievable milestones, finding an accountability partner or asking for help. - Stacy Soria, Gladegy Consulting, LLC
4. Be Accountable To A Peer Or Colleague
Making yourself accountable to a colleague or peer can help with chronic procrastination. Knowing that you have regular progress check-ins will allow you to develop a new sense of focus and purpose entwined with a sense of urgency. This may also be an opportunity to delve deep into work plans and review time management techniques. - Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service
5. Embrace Self-Compassion And Imperfections
Procrastination is often a sign you’re stuck in the perfectionist pitfall. To get unstuck, first identify where you’ve set impossibly high standards and unrealistic expectations, which are often followed by feelings of self-criticism and shame. Next, practice a counteraction: Start a task without being 100% ready or sure that it will be successful, but embrace self-compassion and welcome imperfections—you’re human. - Julie Santiago, Julie Santiago Inc.
6. Know Your Critical Priorities
Know well your critical priorities and their order of importance. Clarify them with your supervisor to be certain. When there is more to do than there is time to do it (and there always is!), ensure you get your top priorities done. If you have to miss a priority, far better it be a low one than a high one. Effectively practice intentional procrastination on lower-importance activities. - Ron N Hurst, Developing Leaders
7. Start Doing 15-Minute Action Sprints
Overcoming chronic procrastination by taking on micro habits works effectively. A great micro habit to consider is doing 15-minute action sprints because this pushes you to take action in a bite-sized way. Block 15 minutes of your time to power through some small but long-procrastinated actions, and you’ll see the impact. - Shefali Raina, Alpha Lane Partners
8. Get Started And Do Only As Much As You Can
If a task is boring, create a new way to make it fun. If there’s no structure to a project, create a detailed game plan for completing it. Only spend as much time working on the task as you can, because it’s easier to pick up an in-progress task or project. Make sure to get started as soon as you can. Lastly, list the costs of not getting it done, and get rid of distractions—especially digital ones. - Lital Marom, UNFOLD Media Group
9. Create Structure With Mini-Deadlines
People procrastinate because they can. Most people jump into high gear when a deadline approaches. When there is no real deadline, or when the project is long-term—making the deadline so far away the work takes a back seat—structure helps. Create mini-deadlines. Focus on milestones. Identify people you are accountable to and ask them to hold you accountable. Remove the ambiguity. - Brad Federman, PerformancePoint LLC
10. Create Bite-Sized Tasks To Complete
Procrastination is about leaving things to the last minute, and it really becomes a problem when too many big things are put off. Break a project into smaller steps and give each step a deadline. Then, create accountability through task-management or communication channels. The smaller steps will flag the issue before it gets too big. - Krista Neher, Boot Camp Digital
11. Know Your Work Style
Develop a personal mantra and know your work style. Dig deep and really get to know the reasons why you procrastinate. Complete an assessment for your style or type and implement your workday commitments based on your strengths. Reading Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy is a great place to begin. “Done, not perfect” and “smarter, not harder” are my go-to mantras along with a “good for you” reward for the tough stuff. - Gayle Draper, Intentional Careers and Human Resources