The Festive Season looms and the closer it gets, three things happen:
- You get busier with holiday preparations and the ‘We must catch up before Christmas’ social whirl.
- You have less time to clear your desk of all those jobs you’ve been putting off.
- You have less time to make good on all your good intentions.
I was listening to a podcast from the British Psychological Society on how to stop procrastinating. It made a good point, along the lines of Procrastination is delay but not all delay is procrastination. Sometimes we put things off for a good reason.
As the year is coming to a close, my advice to you is to clear your desk of all those tasks you’ve put off without a good reason and to fulfil all your good intentions before the summer whirl sets in. That way, you can come back to work in the New Year refreshed and ready to roll, unencumbered by last year’s leftovers.
What is on your ‘I know I should do this, but …’ list? Think about why you haven’t done it. The podcast suggested a two-stage reason we don’t do what we know we should do:
- Negative feelings about the task: it’s unpleasant, I’m concerned I won’t do it well, etc.
- Delaying the task provides temporary relief.
That suggests procrastination is emotion-driven. The answer is twofold:
- Forgive yourself for the last time you procrastinated over the task.
- Find a positive feeling about starting or completing the task.
That will probably work, especially now that your goal is to knock off what you’ve been putting off in order to start off the New Year right.
Here’s a little ditty for you:
Procrastination is my sin,
It brings me endless sorrow.
I really must stop putting off.
In fact, I’ll start tomorrow.
Don’t. Start today, lest you end up like the Murray River settler, whose tombstone reads:
He revelled ‘neath the moon,
He slept beneath the sun,
He lived a life of going-to-do,
And died with nothing done.
Procrastination blocks your brain and reduces your creativity and work capacity. It causes guilt and anxiety and undermines your self-respect. As William James, considered the founder of modern psychology pointed out:
Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.
So that your ‘I really should do this, but …’ list doesn’t grow like Pinocchio’s nose, develop a routine. Here’s a great one: At the end of the day, clear your desk. Use your fresh start the next morning to work on something you’ve been putting off. As Mark Twain said:
If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
With tasks you just plain hate, those that equate to eating a frog, you have two choices: gut them out or farm them out. Decide so that they get done, somehow.
Time is running out! Get those lingering tasks done and come back to a clear New Year!