by Valerie Carrillo
Everyone is guilty of procrastination at some point. According to Psychology Today, about twenty percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions. For the vast majority of us, we just have moments of distractions (like a deadline looming, and you find yourself checking your personal email or social media instead of doing your work). But do you ever find yourself procrastinating on getting ahead in your career?
To figure out how to stop procrastination, you first have to figure out some of the triggers. Here are five pillars of procrastination and practical ways that you can stop putting off and start achieving your greater career goals.
Complex projects that seem daunting. Experts say when you are faced with a project that seems overwhelming and complex that you should break it down in to smaller components. So when you are dreaming big, perhaps you you can tackle each component of your lofty expectations as an individual project. For example, you are a writer and your life ambition is to write a novel. At face value, this can seem like an enormous task. But if you break it down into phases like (1) picking a topic, (2) research, (3) outline, (4) writing Chapter 1, etc., suddenly, it seems manageable. If you still find yourself procrastinating, break it down even further.
Unpleasant or uninteresting projects. While many people will tackle a task that they really enjoy, many of us will put off working on tasks that are less appealing. When a task is viewed as low value or boring, we often attempt to tie it to something that is more enjoyable. For example: “I will write my resume after I run these errands.” Experts say to conquer this we should try implementing a reward system once we complete an unpleasant task. So perhaps you should think: I will buy myself those shoes after I write my resume.
Inability to prioritize. If you expect to complete something easily, then you are less likely to procrastinate. One trick is to write lists of all your tasks and ranking them according to importance. Juggling multiple projects and creating timelines can be overwhelming, so it is suggested that you set daily goals that you can complete in four- hour increments. That way you can evaluate your progress mid-day and then re-assess the situation based on the remaining tasks.
Distractions. Unfortunately, some people have personalities more prone to distractions than others. And while we may not be able to control our personality type, we can control our environment. If you need to block out distractions at home or work, maybe you head to a quiet space (like a library). Or if you need to restrict yourself from time-wasting websites, use tools like StayFocusd. Co-workers can also be distracting; that’s why some experts suggest that you schedule time to chat with your friends to prevent goofing off and keep you on track.
The fear of failure. One of the biggest career killers is a lack of being confident with your abilities. Some people will subconsciously delay the completion of a project or goal because they are nervous about how other people will react. This is no way to get ahead. To combat this type of procrastination, experts suggest that you visualize yourself succeeding in the task at hand; then imagine the steps that you will need to take in order to succeed.
Someone once said, “The best way to get something done is to begin.” The next time you want to put off a career goal don’t make excuses. Be motivated. Take action. And just do it. After all, who ever heard of someone procrastinating their way to success?
Valerie Carrillo is a Senior Writer/Producer, HGTV, DIY & GAC Creative Content at Scripps Networks Interactive.