Do you tidy your office when your budget deadline is the next day? Putting off an action to a later time can result in a cycle of failure and delay. Psychologists often cite procrastination as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing a task or decision.“People put things off because they believe that if they take action it will cause them more pain than pleasure,” says Sacha Sorrell, director of the REAL Institute for Sustainable Entrepreneurship.“They are unsure about the task, so they avoid doing it because it may make them look bad.”
He offers some practical tips for overcoming the need to put things off until tomorrow:
- Understand what is going on psychologically and be conscious about it. Say to yourself “I am afraid of failing because…”
- Determine the cost or pain of not taking action. If you do not complete your financial report, for example, the company will not be able to make any financial decisions, which will ultimately hinder business growth.
- Identify the positive outcome of completing the task. The financial report will enable enhanced decision-making and pave the way for setting up that marketing project you’ve had on your mind.
- Determine where the task belongs on your list of priorities.
- Put the task in your diary and allow yourself a reasonable and realistic amount of time in which to complete it.
- Do it!
Turn it around
By the time you complete the task, you will have understood your fear and turned it on its head. Because you have achieved clarity, you will no longer be sabotaged by the dread that builds when things are delayed and moved from one week to the next. But remember that planning is key, which is why you have to be sensible with the amount of time you allocate to completing a job.
Remember that we are conditioned by past experiences. We remember negative outcomes and carry them with us. The trick is to learn from the past without letting it get in the way of the present.