The Strategist

3 strategies to stop procrastinating and get down to business

06/21/2022 - 09:49

You probably have a project that you keep putting off. Or there's a client you need to call and you've been delaying the call for days. Wait, you were also going to go to the gym more often! How do you get yourself to do what you need to do?

Reason 1: You procrastinate because you're afraid it won't work

Solution: preventative focus. There are at least two approaches to any task. You can take up the task with the idea that your situation will change for the better. For example: "If I complete this project successfully, I will make a favourable impression on the boss". Or, "If I exercise regularly, I will look great". This is the focus of promotion. Researchers say that the promise of a benefit is motivating, and when you're aiming for something positive and optimistic, you're performing at your best. But if you fear defeat, it won't work. What's needed here is a preventive focus.

Don't think about future rewards. Look at the challenge as a way of holding on to what you already have. Then getting the project done will ensure that the boss doesn't get angry or lose respect for you. And regular exercise will be an opportunity to keep yourself on track.

Reason 2: You procrastinate because you don't feel like it

Solution: Ignore your feelings, they're getting in your way. Think about it - it's really important. At some point, we begin to believe (albeit unconsciously) that motivation and effectiveness require a passionate desire. But this is complete nonsense. Yes, on some level you do have to be interested in what you're doing - in completing a project, or living a healthy lifestyle, or getting up early. But you don't have to like those activities at all.

So if you sit back and put things off because you don't feel like doing them, remember: You don't have to wait for a craving. There's really nothing stopping you right now.

Reason 3: You procrastinate because it is difficult, boring or unpleasant

Solution: Plan "if/then". Often we try to solve the problem of procrastination by sheer force of will: next time I will definitely start early. As you can imagine, if we really had the willpower, we would not put off anything at all. Do yourself a favor and accept the fact that your willpower is very limited. It doesn't always correspond to the scale of the problem - in this case, it doesn't allow you to solve a difficult, boring or simply unpleasant task. If so, it is better to use the "if/then" method of planning.
Over 200 studies have confirmed: planning "if/then" increases completed tasks and productivity by an average of 200-300%.

It's not just a list of specific steps needed to complete a project. You need to decide where and when you will implement these steps. For example: 'If it's two o'clock in the afternoon, I drop all my activities and get on with the report. Or: "If my boss doesn't mention my request for a pay rise at our meeting, I'll bring it up myself before the meeting is over. Decide in advance exactly what you plan to do and when and where, and you won't have to think about it later.

Based on “Focus” (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series)


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