Just about everyone has had the experience of missing a deadline. With the busy schedules many people tend to keep, it's almost inevitable. Procrastinating makes this potential issue even more likely.
Procrastination often feels good in the moment, but it can have negative consequences, not only for you but also anyone who is waiting on your presence or input. It is especially important to address this habit if you are in a leadership role at work or at church. Here are some tips to help you overcome your tendency to put things off.
Simplify Your Decision-Making Process
There are many different reasons people procrastinate, but one of the most common is that something else simply took more time than anticipated and thus the task fell through the cracks. Often this is a sign that there are decisions that are still up in the air.
For example, if you consistently tend to run late in the morning, it may be because you are leaving yourself too many decisions to make. Make your decisions easier to combat this procrastination trigger. Perhaps you can streamline your wardrobe so that most pieces can be worn with each other, or maybe you can set out the clothes you're going to wear the night before. Pack lunches or any other bags you take with you the night before as well so you can just grab them on the way out the door. Any decision you can make when you're not rushed for time can leave you feeling less frazzled in the morning.
List and Prioritize Tasks
A long to-do list can be overwhelming. This is particularly challenging for neurodivergent folks, who may take one look at it and go straight into avoidance mode. To circumvent this response, try to assign a priority to each task that gets put on your plate as soon as you get it. Once you block off space for it on your calendar and set a reminder, you don't have to think about it anymore until it's time to complete it.
If you feel like you're always a little bit behind, it can be disheartening. However, sudden demands can throw even the most organized calendar off balance. Learning to recognize when a task is truly time-sensitive and when it can be booked at a later date that fits into your schedule better helps you set reasonable boundaries. If you already have your priorities listed and blocked out on your calendar, you have a built-in tool to inform others about your availability.
Divide Tasks Into Tiny Steps
One reason prioritizing tasks is so important is that it helps you break down big tasks into smaller, more manageable steps. That way, when looking at the project as a whole gets overwhelming, you can easily identify the next action. You may not be able to complete the whole task at once, but you can almost always find time to make a little progress, and this can help you meet the final deadline more easily.
Adjust Your Environment to Your Needs
Environment plays a key role in how you manage time and resources. Most people assume they don't have a lot of control over their environment, but you may be able to make more changes than you expect:
- Identify and remove distractions.
- Use technology such as noise-canceling headphones to turn a busy office into a serene environment.
- Communicate your needs to your supervisor, committee or team to find solutions together.
These are just a few suggestions for tackling the problem of procrastination. Once you identify the reasons you put things off, you are better equipped to find resolutions that work well for you.