There are almost 50 million search hits (maybe more, but that’s what we noticed) about procrastination. It is a fact that we all procrastinate. Some do it a lot and some know how to tame the beast.
There are hundreds if not thousands of “tips” on how to control, reduce, manage and/or eliminate procrastination. Believe me, I tried to read them all. Some are great, some silly, some goofy, some useless and some, well, we don’t even get it!
After all the suggestions, our team came to a simple conclusion about how to (try to) tame procrastination:
First, there should not be any “rules”. People don’t like rules. Do you like rules? There are enough rules around us that make our life almost miserable (Do this, don’t do this, and so on…) Taming procrastination should be a mindset that turns into a “good” habit. And we all know habits are very hard to change and implement. So this good-habit forming process for taming procrastination needs some serious work and commitment on your part to turn it into a mindset, into an action that is just like washing your face and brushing your teeth in the morning, or simply the act of going to sleep (You don’t procrastinate about those do you?)
Here is what we found that helps overcome our tendency to procrastinate:
First, let’s make it clear, we believe in making lists of things (tasks or to do stuff, whatever you call it) so we have an idea of what needs to be accomplished and a road-map on hand.
So, from this list, we first look at the time it takes to complete each task (you should have a good idea of how long it would take to complete each item on your list.)
Now that you are armed with the “time stamps” for each to do item, prioritize the ones that will take you 3 to 5 minutes to accomplish. These are the “quick solve” items. You should not also constrain yourselves with this range, i.e.; What takes me three minutes to accomplish may take 5 or more minutes for someone else, and/or visa-versa… so adapt the “time stamps” to your own personal flavor and life style.
Prioritize your list not by importance but by the “time stamps” making sure that the “quick solves” are listed first (There is a reason for this, don’t quit now, please keep on reading)
Now that you have your time-stamps for the “quick solve” items of your list, the most important part is do them “Right Now”. No ifs, no buts, we mean right that second. Do it and get it done.
There is a simple reason behind this. This process (or good habit forming) will prevent small “quick solve” tasks from piling up and creating an overwhelming to do list later.
Sometimes the items that take the least amount of time to accomplish can also turn into some great successes.
Once you have completed the small “quick solve” stuff, then you can concentrate on the big items to do.
For the big tasks (projects or others), you can adapt the same habit forming strategy you created for the “quick solve” small stuff to identify one small component that won’t take long to accomplish, then do that first action to get the ball rolling, concentrating on what matters the most.
Don’t forget this is a habit forming (mindset) process. You need to create and tame this “good habit”. Commitment to and constant improvement of this habit will help you tame your procrastination.
Hope this helps.
(Your comments, suggestions and advice on this subject matter are welcome and encouraged.)
Hal Tezcan, co-founder, managing director Startup Port.