We’re all guilty of it. We put off tasks, even very important ones, and later pay the price for having to catch up or impacting the workflow of others. In a workplace setting, it’s very easy to get caught up in endless to-do items that make us seem busy while putting off the work that will actually make a difference for our business, and in the case of an agency or any other service organization, our clients.
There are days when just “getting stuff done” can leave you with an immediate sense of gratification, but then at the end of the day you’ll feel terrible for not having accomplished what really needed to be done. It’s important to remind yourself that putting off for tomorrow what you could do today can do more harm than good. And, in the service industries we work in – digital marketing, social media and public relations -procrastination can be a dangerous thing. We work in real time, and we need to be constantly taking immediate action to make the most of today’s fast-moving media landscape. We absolutely can’t wait, or opportunities will pass us by.
So, what are the steps to take when you suspect you might be procrastinating:
Start your day with two to three things.
How you start the day can set you up for success (and limited distraction). The list of things we want or need to do in a day can be endless, and we may think we can do it all. The problem with this thinking is that it doesn’t allow for deep work on a project and we run the risk of burning out. The reality is that it is only possible to do two or three things really well in a day, and that may be generous. When organizing your day, separate it into the one major task you will focus on or two to three things you will accomplish that are most important and will help you breakthrough on larger goals. Then, your daily checklist of insignificant to-dos should be kept separate to avoid becoming your tool of procrastination. Really focus on the big tasks first and if you find yourself diving into crossing off the distractions on your checklist for too long, stop and go back to your major tasks.
The Takeaway: Trust that small lists of tasks will lead to more pronounced progress than long lists of low-priority tasks that lead to procrastination.
Manage how you use technology.
Technology is amazing. Technology allows us to do many, many things. Sometimes too many things. Ask any employee at Konnect, and they’ll tell you the work we do is made faster and more efficient by our organization’s significant commitment to providing the best in technology. However, speeding up the time it takes to do things can come at a price. It can be very distracting, and you can find your day and time spiraling out of control. Technology can lead to major distraction. Try taking longer breaks from technology throughout the day, and you may find you will procrastinate less and make more progress. Turn off e-mail notifications, put your cell phone in a drawer, and get to work. When you come out of a 30-minute to one-hour dive into deep work and make progress, e-mails, text messages and calls will still be there waiting for you.
The Takeaway: Removing the temptation of technology, over time, will get easier and will lead to more focus and productivity.
Accept that change will not happen overnight.
The need for social interaction with coworkers, dopamine hits from our cell phones or a snack from the kitchen comes from our primal urges. It is not easy to commit to not feeding these needs. Every signal in our brain and body leads us toward distracting activities and procrastination. Like anything else, we need to be patient, make a commitment to change, and keep practicing. Eventually, our brains will learn to adjust, and we will gain an ability to get things done at a level we never thought imaginable.
The Takeaway: It may take time to stop procrastinating.
Being part of a fast-paced public relations and marketing agency like Konnect, we are all part of a team – and when we procrastinate, we can impact the people around us. Each of us faces unique challenges when it comes to the root of our distraction and procrastination because we’re only human, so the first step is acknowledging that the eight hours we spent in the office may not have gotten us as far as we would like. Once we realize this, we can make small changes toward reaching our long-term goal of less procrastination and more productive days.
Here’s to productivity!