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What are some of the reasons you procrastinate? Are you worried about the task ahead? Do you think you don’t have the right skills? Or, maybe, you’ve put so much pressure on yourself that you’re certain you can never live up to expectations?

Or maybe, just maybe, you have a thousand other things you’d rather be doing instead?

Whatever the case, we’re all guilty of procrastination sometimes. And that’s a bad thing, right? According to some experts, yes. Psychologist and success coach, Elizabeth Lombardo, tells us that research shows procrastination to be “associated with increased long-term physical stress, weaker performance, greater likelihood of illness and insomnia, less happiness, and diminished wealth.” None of those things sound great, but is that really the full story? Are there ever instances when procrastination can actually be a good thing?

“Yes,” says Adam Grant, author of Originals. “Procrastination is a normal part of the creative process.”

According to Grant, many of “the greats” were also great procrastinators. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Ernest Hemingway, Leonardo da Vinci, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Martin Luther King Jr. were all master procrastinators. Evidently, Martin Luther King Jr. “didn’t start writing his ‘I have a dream’ speech until the night before–and he was still jotting notes and crossing out lines right before he walked onstage.”

But, just because some of the great artists, inventors, and activists were procrastinators doesn’t mean procrastination is itself a good thing, right?

Well, not necessarily. Procrastination can actually allow your mind to explore avenues it might not have explored if you had doggedly stuck to your deadline and stayed on task. It’s been shown that moderate procrastinators are more creative than those who complete tasks ahead of time OR those who put things off until the 11th hour.

So, the lesson here is that some procrastination can actually be a good thing, but too much can lead to poor results (or NO results!).

Though it’s not usually a good idea to “play chicken” with a deadline, don’t be too hard on yourself if you do. As Adam Grant says, “Sure, procrastination can be the enemy of progress. But beating yourself up about it only makes it worse. If you’re stressed that you’re stressed, you suffer more.”

Next time you’re bumping up against a deadline, take a deep breath, focus, and let your creative side run wild! Though you shouldn’t necessarily make it a habit, procrastination isn’t the end of the world.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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beat procrastination in 2 minutes

It’s easy to put things off. It’s easy to find reasons to NOT do things. Many of us fill our lives with excuses, opting to skip the gym, delay starting a difficult project, or avoid having tough conversations.

What holds you back from moving forward? Do certain tasks or activities seem daunting? Are you afraid of failure? Or are you simply having trouble rallying your motivation?

Step forward with excuse-free living (a concept I address in my book, The Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge) and take ownership of your future. You can do it in TWO MINUTES.

How? One of the most important steps you can take is simply starting a project. Put on your gym shoes. Set up a meeting time to have a difficult conversation. Write the first paragraph of a novel.

Starting is symbolic. It signals that you’ve put aside your fear and trepidation and are ready to move forward. Amazing things happen if you start something. You’ll likely find that the first steps aren’t so bad and you may even gain motivation to move forward and keep the momentum going. If you’re tackling a large project, create milestone markers for yourself along the way and once you pass each marker, treat it like having a fresh start, a new beginning.

If you fill your tasks with many new beginnings, they are less likely to feel old, stale, overwhelming, or unmanageable.

James Clear, expert on behavioral psychology, was my inspiration for writing about beating procrastination in two minutes. He asserts that, “Most of the tasks that you procrastinate on aren’t actually difficult to do — you have the talent and skills to accomplish them — you just avoid starting them for one reason or another.” He advises a two-fold approach for dealing with this reluctance to start something.

1. If something takes less than 2 minutes to do, do it now.

Clear says, “It’s surprising how many things we put off that we could get done in two minutes or less. For example, washing your dishes immediately after your meal, tossing the laundry in the washing machine, taking out the garbage, cleaning up clutter, sending that email, and so on.”

2. When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do.

This idea goes back to my “just start” philosophy. Although you certainly can’t complete a major assignment in two minutes, you can get it started. Use that kick start to motivate you into action.

 

What will you accomplish TODAY?


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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