Procrastination is a killer of business and a money suck. So why does it happen and how can companies minimize the counter-productive employee tendency?
Stever Robbins, author of Get-It-Done Guy’s 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More sent us his Q&A with his publishing company about how to battle boredom.
Why do we procrastinate? What are some simple tips for beating procrastination?
Thinking causes procrastination. No, really. We build up tasks in our mind, thinking they’ll be huge, unachievable,or unpleasant. The remedy is to stop thinking and just start acting. Your brain will still get in your way, however. While you’re filling out your procrastinated expense reports, your brain will distract you with worries that you’re making no progress on the novel you’ve been procrastinating.
You recommend people not consider all their options. How can this help someone get more done?
We love choice! We believe more choice means more happiness and more movement towards our goals! The research on choice refutes this, however. Give us more than two or three choices and we become less likely to act and more likely to regret any choice we take.
In daily life, this means too many options stalls us, and we end up less happy with our choices. We make and re-make our decisions until we’ve spent more time and money making the decision than the decision is actually worth. By limiting our options, we limit the research needed for the choice, and we’re more likely to keep moving forward.
What is the biggest hindrance to your personal productivity? How do you deal with it?
The Internet. The web and email are a large part of my job, and they’re both distraction machines. The moment I open an email or visit a web site to do research, I risk hours of distraction. Its siren song is extremely seductive and hard to resist…
My solution is to divorce my technology. Rather than thinking of my computer as “my computer,” I think of it as a different tools, depending on my task. Sometimes it’s my typewriter, sometimes it’s my reference book, and sometimes it’s my newspaper. When I think of it in terms of the tool I need at the moment, it helps me stay focused on the current task.
…And when that fails, I use a freeware program called Freedom on my Mac to shut down my internet connection for a couple of hours.
If a person can make just one change to make themselves more productive, what would you recommend they change?
Live on purpose. Regularly stop and ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Then make sure what you’re doing is really the best way to reach that goal. I do this a dozen times a day. “Why am I surfing Facebook?” “I dunno. Habit.” “Ok, self, get back to work!”
You recommend that people schedule interruptions. How is this possible?
You schedule interruptions by setting aside a time block each day for dealing with interruptions. If you’re interrupted, quickly decide if it’s a show-stopping emergency. If not, jot it down on your “Interruptions” list. Wait until your scheduled interruption time and work on it then. If Bernice drops by, asking you to review a memo she’s written, just say, “I would be happy to. I’m busy right now. How about if I get back to you a little after 4 p.m.?” When your interruption time arrives, her memo will be on your list and you can handle it then. Often if the interruption is someone with a problem, they’ll solve it themselves when you make yourself their convenient rescue service.
Interruptions will take your time one way or another. If you schedule them, at least you can get work done in the meantime.
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