Though not one of the 7 deadly sins, procrastination has to have made it pretty high on the list. Travel professionals who procrastinate know the mounting sense of foreboding that it creates – the feeling of impending crisis. Most of us who procrastinate are expert at coming up with reasons for our actions, and almost all of us are certain that we “work best under pressure.” It is a self-fulfilling prophecy – wait long enough to accomplish a task and there will be plenty of pressure to go around. The key to overcoming procrastination is to recognize it when it is occurring, to affirmatively work through the reasons not to procrastinate and then to move into action on the task.
Why do we procrastinate? Psychologist will tell you there are a number of reasons, some simple, some complex. Typically, we just don’t like the task at hand, so we make excuses to do something else. I, personally, do not like accounting. So when it’s time to do the books, I tell myself there is plenty of time to get it done, or that I really need to write an article instead. The accounting doesn’t go away, however. It continues to lurk just outside the conscious mind, playing havoc with my sense of accomplishment and well-being.
The secret to beating procrastination is to call to mind the negative consequences it creates. Procrastination means we will not do as good a job as we might otherwise. Procrastination means we don’t feel as good about ourselves for days or even longer as the task hangs over our head. Procrastination means those who depend on us for results may be disappointed with our work product. Bottom line, procrastination is not a good thing – it assaults our integrity and we need to overcome the habit. For those Jungians among you – procrastination is a bit “shadowy,” a sly form of self-sabotage.
Recognize procrastination when it happens. Watch for the types of activity that denote procrastination in your work habits – putting low priority tasks first, re-reading old emails or files that have no priority, transferring the same item from day to day on your to-do list as it marches closer and closer to its due date. Acknowledge that the task at hand is not a favorite but it must be done. Put it on your to do list and then schedule it. Make an appointment to get the job done, then keep the appointment. Break it up into smaller tasks if necessary, and then accomplish some portion on a regular basis until it is completed. Reward yourself for completing each portion with a break from your desk, a cup of coffee or, better yet, with just feeling better about yourself for accomplishing a less-favored chore.
While procrastination is the subject of a lot of jokes, it is in reality a real impediment to good work habits and performance. Spend some time freeing yourself from the tyranny of procrastination and you will feel better about yourself. And don’t put it off. Really. Get started. Now!
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