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Meet Madame Procrastination

Meet Madame Procrastination

Be aware of your tendency to put off tasks and learn how to avoid it

I’ll introduce you to her, even though chances are you have met her before. She is one most attractive characters in the productivity field. She dazzles both men and women, young and middle-aged people.

She is a classic beauty that never goes out of style. She captivates us with false promises, saying we have still plenty of time to complete the task. She makes us believe we will end it in no time, whispers in our ear the task it’s a piece of cake for us and reminds us of all the nice things we could be doing instead of the task we should be doing: surfing the internet, listening to music, chatting with your colleagues, checking your e-mail … “Don’t be silly,” she says, “this break is just a way to get inspired and gather momentum…”.

 

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But actually she’s lying, for Lady Procrastination always lets you down: at the end of the day, time goes by, you get tangled up on the Internet, the task is only half done or you haven’t started yet, and the task at hand suddenly is not only important but also urgent. And before you know it you have to work overtime, in a rush, uneasy and feeling guilty.

Lady Procrastination is all facade. You only need to scratch the surface to discover she has deceived you. She never really thought you would do it well. In fact she probably had her doubts, because deep inside you know your tendency to postpone certain tasks it’s not really due to considering them too easy, but on the contrary it is due to some doubts of not being able to excel at them.

You know that by intuition; psychologists and neurologists have learned that in tasks requiring a lot of concentration and a great intellectual wear, such as making calculations, learning an abstract subject or writing a complex report, our brain secretes a chemical that produces a kind of “pain”. Brain’s natural reaction is to get away from the intense annoyance by using distractions that will gratify it in the short term.

Lady Procrastination feeds both on your overconfidence and your fear of not being up to the challenge. In either case, at the end of the day, you are the one losing out: the queen of deferred projects will go elsewhere to cajole someone else with her siren song (“Read this supercool blog!” “Have you seen this video of kittens?”; “What about the last joke of Whatsapp?”) and you will stay with backlog and bad taste in your mouth.

How can I avoid the reach of the happy Procrastination Lady siren calls?, you will ask. The following strategies can help:

  1. Clearly define your goals and the tasks that will allow you to fulfill them. This will put you in the right direction and motivate you.
  2. Set a realistic plan to achieve your goals.
  3. Divide tasks into reasonable blocks, make breaks and reward yourself as you fulfill stages of the plan.
  4. Block all interruptions (phone calls, emails, social networks).
  5. Do not wait until you feel like doing the task or inspired. The desire will come by the inertia of the activity.
  6. If any idea not related to the task arises or someone interrupts, write a brief note or take care of it quickly and then resume the task as soon as possible (remember, finishing is essential for being productive).
  7. Visualize yourself completing the task and feeling great.

Next time you’re tempted to fall into the charms of Lady Procrastination, read again these 7 points and you will be in a much stronger position to make the right decision that will get you closer to your goals.

 

Elena Alemany
Equipo Hightrack
On track!

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