Taming Procrastination


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Taming Procrastination

  1. 1. Procrastination – Is It Worth It? Mary McDonald McDonald Consulting Group www.mcdcg.com
  2. 2. "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
  3. 3. Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least. — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet/philosopher
  4. 4. What is Procrastination? <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Deferring action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Delaying what we are doing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Putting something off to another day or time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Defer making a decision, sometimes until the opportunity is lost </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. What it means <ul><li>We start out to do something other than what we are supposed to be doing </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a learned behavior; we are not born with it </li></ul><ul><li>This is good news – as we can therefore unlearn it! </li></ul>
  6. 6. &quot;Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea?&quot; Donald Gardner
  7. 7. Nothing
  8. 8. How Many of Us Procrastinate? <ul><li>Procrastination is pervasive , and it should concern us. </li></ul><ul><li>At least 95% of us procrastinate at least occasionally </li></ul><ul><li>About 15-20% of us do it consistently and problematically. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Good or bad? <ul><li>Although there is a negative connotation associated with procrastination, it can also be a good thing… </li></ul>
  10. 10. Procrastination = Inaction Postponement = Action
  11. 11. Postponement <ul><li>Postponement is taking a conscious action to delay working on a task </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t read your mail or IM your friends when you get home </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Postpone logging on for the first 30 minutes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Let your cell phone go to voicemail for 1 hour. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Procrastination <ul><li>Procrastination is inaction on a task. </li></ul><ul><li>Although you have an urgent assignment to work on, you chat with your friends, read the latest email jokes, and surf the web to see what the latest scoops are…. </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Slippery Slope to Procrastination <ul><li>Focus on the task at hand. </li></ul><ul><li>…… .. </li></ul><ul><li>Try to focus on the task at hand, while getting distracted by something else </li></ul><ul><li>…… .. </li></ul><ul><li>Become preoccupied with our distraction </li></ul><ul><li>…… .. </li></ul><ul><li>Voila! We’re procrastinating! </li></ul>
  14. 14. &quot;The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.&quot; Mark Twain
  15. 15. Roots of Procrastination <ul><li>According to John M. Grohol, Psy. D, there are several different roots of procrastination, including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perfectionism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disorganization </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Perfectionism <ul><li>Perfectionists fear: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Making mistakes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Letting someone down </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perfectionists usually: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set unreasonable goals (doing it perfectly every time) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t meet the goals causes pressure and stress </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pressure/stress triggers feelings of failure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blame themselves for failure  lower self-esteem </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Give up </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Perfectionism myths <ul><li>“ If I don’t do this perfectly the first time I try, it won’t be worth doing at all.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t try you will never know how good you will do. Even if it’s not perfect the first time, it will be easier to work on once you have started. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Fear <ul><li>Procrastinators driven by fear: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pros at avoidance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intense desire to avoid performing a task </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wait for the deadline to pass so it doesn’t need to be dealt with </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The more tasks, the more depressed they become / resigned to failure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Why start if I’m only going to fail?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emotion-based </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Fear myths <ul><li>“ If I don’t do this task to someone else’s standard , no one will trust me/like me/depend on me ever again.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: If you do the task to the best of your ability, you will feel better than if you don’t try at all. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Fear myths <ul><li>“ If I wait long enough, the task will magically become easier/go away.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: The longer you put it off, the more pressure you will put on yourself, which will make it harder and harder to eventually complete. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Fear myths <ul><li>“ If I wait long enough, my boss will assign this to someone else.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: The sooner you complete the task, the sooner you can move on to better things. </li></ul>
  22. 22. “ Anger is the only thing to put off till tomorrow.&quot; Slovakian proverb
  23. 23. Disorganization <ul><li>Leading cause of procrastination </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty: prioritizing tasks properly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Procrastinators tackle the easiest tasks first </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Urgent? Don’t do it if it’s not, even if it’s easy… </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>meanwhile, back at the ranch… </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Difficult tasks are piling up </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Eventually leading to anxiety </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A difficult task becomes urgent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>when it’s been left too long </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Leading to – a disorganized schedule/day </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Disorganization myths <ul><li>“ Every task is so large that it can’t be divided up into smaller tasks.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: If you prioritize the big tasks, then work on breaking down the tasks one at a time you will find it easier to manage. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Disorganization myths <ul><li>“ The task that I just got handed needs to be analyzed before I can get back to my current urgent task.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: The task you’re working on may not need to be interrupted – see if you can finish one thing before jumping into another. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Disorganization myths <ul><li>“ I don’t need to write down my priorities or tasks because I can remember it all.” </li></ul><ul><li>Reality: Writing down the tasks allows you to free your mind and focus on the current task at hand; it also helps with priority setting. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Drivers <ul><li>Procrastination is driven by our fears: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of the unknown (unknown outcome) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of doing it ‘wrong’ (imperfectly) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of doing it to the best of our abilities --And it still not being ‘good enough’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of being successful (and getting more responsibility than we are comfortable with) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of doing it correctly but being late </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fear of “it” being hopeless </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Summary <ul><li>We can tame procrastination by keeping an eye on our task list </li></ul><ul><li>Prioritize the work that needs to get done </li></ul><ul><li>Break big projects down to small manageable pieces </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t let fear rule your life – practice positive self-talk </li></ul>
  29. 29. For more info for adults and kids, please contact McDonald Consulting Group 512-280-7175 [email_address]