“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all “ Peter F Drucker
Come on, be honest, how often do you put off doing something you really need to do and then focus on doing something that doesn’t really need doing at all? Maybe you can spend hours looking at different ways you could do the task you’re putting off, rather than just doing it?
- That form needs filling in?
- That cupboard under the stairs really needs sorting out before somebody gets hurt.
- Your tax return needs completing – for the entire financial year even though you promised yourself last year that you would never leave it all till the last minute again.
- Do you have a report to write?
- Are you looking at new software that promises to help? Are you perhaps looking at flash ways to automate part of the process, when you could do that down the line, instead of just getting it done?
In order to feel less guilty about not doing the jobs that really need doing, we end up doing jobs that are on our “want to do” list or on our “need to do but not today” list. Or even jobs that are on no list at all but hey, we tell ourselves, it would make sense to have a clear out of all those screenshots on your phone?
These procrastination jobs become our total focus and we forget temporarily that we don’t need to be doing them. They could wait. We produce the best piece of work that anyone could ever wish for. We cross every T and dot every I. We even spend time on the decorative parts, just to kill more time.
You’re not alone, I promise you.
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. How often do you get to the end of the day and think “where did it go and what do I have to show for it” even when you feel like you haven’t stopped all day?
Doing this occasionally as a way of giving your brain a break, in order to find a solution or to get motivated, isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes taking that break is a great way to reinvigorate yourself and possibly come up with a new or creative way of tackling the job you’re putting off.
However, if you find yourself filling your time with lots of little jobs from your want to do list or not today list, ask yourself what’s stopping you?
What is it about the job you’re putting off that makes you procrastinate so much?
- Are you worried that maybe you’ll get it wrong, are there huge consequences for getting it wrong?
- Are you worried that other people may see this and comment negatively?
- Or is it just that you worry it will take all day and your to do list looks huge?
Now the tax returns we all understand. It’s a tedious job and sometimes just actually managing to login to the government website can make you lose the will to go on. However, it’s a necessary evil.
So just do it, as Nike tell us.
Once it’s done, take the rest of the day to set up a system so you don’t have the same stress on 31 Jan next year.
- Create a reminder in your calendar to update your expenses every month
- Actually update the expenses every month
- Search for ways to keep receipts – either digitally or physically
- Set up a template for expenses in Excel or Numbers – something you know will be easy to maintain. Add in the categories for monthly expenses that stay the same (g. magazine subscriptions website hosting, etc) so they are already done.
Go through your list and look at those jobs you keep putting off. Highlight them and next to them, set yourself a reward. Think of it as part b of the task. It could be as simple as an episode of Real Housewives or a coffee and pastry. Or perhaps an hour on social media or playing the latest game on your phone. Whatever helps you to get the first part of the task done.
Good luck, let me know if you have any tips on how to just get going on the jobs you are putting off.