Six Procrastination Detours That Off Road Productivity
I’ve been wanting to write this article about procrastination for some time now but I’ve been putting it off;)
I love one guy’s answer when asked “what is your greatest skill?” With confidence, he replied, “I’m a professional procrastinator. Years of practice and perfected daily.”
It’s a funny and brutally honest response but how true is it of you, really?
Definition of Procrastination:
To keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring.
(Source: Cambridge International Dictionary of English)
I like Wayne Dyer’s definition: “Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday and avoiding today.”
In surveys, 95% of people admit to procrastinating, with about a quarter of these saying that it’s a chronic, defining characteristic.
At any time, “To stop procrastinating” is among the world’s top reported goals.
Procrastination is one of the most subtle of all Productivity Killers.
You know when it’s effective when you quietly ask yourself…
- “Where did all of my time go?”
- “What did I actually get done today?”
- “What was I just working on?”
Jerome K. Jerome once said, “I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” If you secretly resonate with that quote, well then this post is for you. Don’t put it off and continue reading!
If you have a desire to be truly productive especially in the professional world, it’s critical you identify how the detours of procrastination effects you personally.
How you procrastinate is different than me.
Some detours are subtle. You take one small turn which leads to another and all of a sudden, you have no idea where you’re at or what you were doing in your day.
Other detours are a sharp right. Oh, look, a bird! And it’s a quick decision down an ally way.
Here Are Six Procrastination Detours That Off Road Productivity
1. I Don’t Know Enough
The feeling of not knowing what you need to know is an easy way of putting something off. But this may even lead to putting off even the process of learning what you need to know.
This detour is insecurity and fear-based but can be solved with just starting. Spend your time finding out what you don’t know not delaying.
2. The Curse of the Perfectionist
“It’s just not right yet” could cause you to delay big time. It’s one thing to want excellence but when it needs to be perfect and now you’re into 2.0 when 1.0 is not released yet is a great sign you’re procrastinating.
According to David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, “Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started.”
Have someone else see if you’re on the perfectionist or excellence side then move on with it.
3. I Just Can’t Make a Decision
Getting lost in the options can be a great reason to procrastinate.
It could manifest itself in a restaurant looking at a menu but can really play out when you need to make a decision at work when productivity really matters.
Narrow your decisions down to two choices then trust your gut or someone you trust on which decision to make. But make the decision.
4. The Urge to Re-Prioritize Immediately
Have you ever found yourself compelled to re-organize something or even do laundry when it’s time to work?
What you would normally avoid like the plague now becomes irresistible. If this describes you, then you should instantly know you’re procrastinating.
I’ve become very skilled in this detour. I avoid it by the use of Time Blocks. If I can work on something for a set period of time, I can take a break and chase those detours for a couple minutes if I want. Often, they’ve lost their appeal.
You must identify where you’re losing time within your day.
5. I Simply Don’t Like the Work
These are the things you put off for no other reason than you just don’t like them. Imagine that in life. Expense reports or updating CRM. (oops, did I just share a couple of mine?)
They may be easy but it doesn’t change the reality you simply don’t like to do them. They may even be quick. Yet I will spend more time putting them off than it would take to actually do them. (now I sound like my Father. Somebody stop me!)
I’ve now chosen to do them as my 1st or 2nd time block to just get them out of the way of my day and when I have the most willpower to stay focused to advance or complete them.
6. Media Time Wasters
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly media can steal my attention then suck me in for an untold time. Seeing an open website tab is almost too much to handle sometimes.
Or the Social Media pull and lie “I’ll only check updates for a moment” and on and on. Another example is checking scores quickly, etc.
Research in the USA Today states that it’s never been more of a challenge to procrastinate with all of the temptations that are available to us today.
Most of us are drawn to this media detour. But when it becomes a procrastination pull that is overwhelming, we need to put limits so it doesn’t wreck our productivity.
Suggestions on How to Take Procrastination Down
Identify Your “Go To” Detour – one or two may have stood out to you. Figure out which one best describes you.
Minimize Its Power – if you know which detour is your achilles heel, you also know how to put measures in place to minimize or even stop it. You just need to do it. Now.
Choose to Attack it for Five Minutes – if and when you find yourself about to go on your procrastination detour, stop in your tracks and focus on your work for five solid minutes.
Often the detour’s power will leave for awhile and you may even find yourself signing up for another five minutes, then another until hopefully your project is advanced or completed.
The reality is “Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.”(anonymous quote) But it doesn’t HAVE to be this way if we can detour procrastination the right way.
Motivated, busy professionals need to be productive to truly excel. And this means identifying your “go to” detour, minimizing its power, and being disciplined for a set amount of time to just simply start.
I challenge you to let go of the lie “The sooner I fall behind, the more time I have to catch up.” (anonymous quote)
You can be SO much more productive if you can dramatically minimize and even eliminate procrastination from your professional life.
What can you do today to dramatically affect the detour of procrastination in your life?