Let’s make time for Procrastination
Desiree Anderson gives a new perspective on wasting time…
By Desiree Anderson
We all do it.
I know I do.
You may be doing it right now.
What am I talking about?
Procrastination, of course!
Procrastination is the most natural thing in the world. Along with aging and taxes, procrastination is one of the few completely inevitable things about life. All of us find our minds wandering from what we SHOULD be doing towards anything and everything we COULD be doing. When I work from home, there’s not a day goes by without my succumbing to the urge to dust pristine knickknacks or rearrange shelves of unwatched DVDs in alphabetical order. Anything rather than getting on with ‘that’ paperwork I’ve been putting off.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve by no means ‘cracked’ procrastination – you wouldn’t believe how clean my windows have become since writing the last sentence – but I have come to terms with it.
Here are some real-life approaches that have helped me:
1: RECOGNISE YOUR WORLD HAS CHANGED
For so many of us, due to reasons we’re all painfully familiar with, our work has changed dramatically in the last year or so. That’s the reality. We’ve suddenly found ourselves expected to conduct both our personal and professional lives from one limited geographical area: our home. This change has necessarily had a MASSIVE effect on the way we work. Gone are all the old patterns of activity that felt comfortingly familiar: the real-world meetings, the informal lunches with colleagues, the pronounced work-life/home-life division. These days you’re expected to present to the C-Suite, without breaking a sweat, while listening to the kids arguing over Minecraft in the next room. Of course, your mind is going to wander. It would be ridiculous if it didn’t. Coming to terms with this reality is essential.
2: FOCUS ON THE TIMES YOU’RE MOST EFFECTIVE
We all work differently, that’s the reality. Some prefer the carrot, some the stick. In my case I’m often motivated by the prospect of handmade chocolates and a chilled glass of pinot at the end of play. I don’t know about you, but I feel at my most productive first thing in the morning. So, I schedule the most ‘taxing’ of my activities into that part of the day. Others feel best after lunch or… well, you’ll know what’s best for you. I try to keep procrastination to a minimum during these ‘peak’ hours of productivity. If you must watch ‘Diagnosis Murder’*, on a loop, do it when your work capacity has diminished.
*Personally, I’m more of a ‘Columbo’ fan.
3: STAND UP TO YOUR INNER CRITIC
How’s your inner critic today? Keeping its opinions to itself? I hope so. The reality is we’ve all got an inner critic. It’s that unhelpful inner voice that says you can’t do something or you’re not good enough to succeed. Ironically, our inner critic thinks it’s being helpful, yet unchecked it can become a real barrier to productivity. Don’t let a bit of harmless procrastination become something your inner critic chastises you about. It’s important to stand up for yourself and remind your critic that you’re a human being, not a machine. Yes, you’re imperfect, but you’re trying your best. Let’s get real, it’s the imperfections that make you unique. So, don’t forget to give yourself a break. If your day contains more work than procrastination, in my book, you’re doing OK. If your inner critic tells you otherwise, it’s lying.
4: MAKE TIME FOR PROCRASTINATION
Procrastination is like an itch, sometimes you’ve just got to scratch; in order to allow your mind to focus. That’s the reality. My advice is to build quality procrastination time into your day. Put it into your diary. That way, you get to spy on the neighbours, vacuum the cutlery drawer, or watch another episode of ‘Homes Under the Hammer’ without ruining your schedule. You’ll get the mental break you need, without the guilt that your day is going ‘off course’.
IN A NUTSHELL:
All of us must live with procrastination, it’s part of being human. The key is to stop fighting the impulse to waste time and accept there are periods of high and low productivity within any working day – that’s certainly true for me!
For more real-life advice on dealing with procrastination get in touch with me, Desiree Anderson, and we can talk it through together.
Go on, don’t put it off. Do it now.