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Procrastination

May 31, 2013

My wife likes to joke that procrastination is a way to make the mundane more challenging, just like making chores a timed game for children.  Despite the humorous excuse, she offers an interesting perspective.

The old gem, “Don’t put off tomorrow what can be done today,” seems logical enough.  However, probing deeper into the motivation that get things done and the factors that lead to procrastination might offer some insight to improve task efficiency.  Most would agree that the level of enthusiasm held for a certain task correlates with positive outcomes.  Realistically we are not going to like every task, every day.  So how are we going to trick ourselves into productivity, just like we do with children?

Take some time to examine what tends to motivates you to get things done and then adapt tasks to include those factors.   My house never looks cleaner than right before someone comes over.  This is because my wife is really motivated by how others regard her.  In the workplace, it may be helpful for those similar to my wife to set meetings with a peer/mentor throughout a project timeline to force progress before the deadline.

Likewise, inspect the tasks you tend to procrastinate and finds ways to skew your perspective or inhibitions.  Getting me to the dentist is like pulling teeth, literally! I had bad experiences as a child and now I put off going even though the visits are never as bad as I imagined.  Fear or presumed negativity, tends to cause me to procrastinate.  Talk to others who have done the task before in order to keep a realistic outlook.

With “push notifications,” email alerts, texts, calls etc., it is a miracle we finish any thought process.  Many times things are put off simply because we can’t get anything done.  Monitoring and limiting our distractions may be our biggest defense against procrastination.

“One of the great challenges of our age, in which the tools of our productivity are also the tools of our leisure, is to figure out how to make more useful those moments of procrastination when we’re idling in front of our computer screens.”  – Joshua Foer

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