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Stop procrastinating! This is a statement that is easier said than done.
This article only became a reality after three consecutive nights of procrastination, during which I caught up on my sleep, played a new block puzzle game with my children and researched on parenting and photography information. Scientists define procrastination as the voluntary delay of an action despite foreseeable negative future consequences. Procrastinators opt for short-term pleasure at the cost of the long-term repercussions.1
Regardless of why you drag your feet over some matters, procrastination is a habit that is not easy to break. Here are a couple of useful tips to help you re-ignite your motivation so you complete that dreaded or long overdue task.
1. Look at the long-term value of the task
All work assignments and projects come with a consequential value. Imagine you have been assigned to write the proposal for a $2 million contract by X date. In this situation, the value of the task is not only limited to the monetary value of the contract. When the deadline is not met or the proposal is not drafted according to the specifications, your long-term values such as reputation, credibility or even promotion could be at jeopardy. For mundane tasks, procrastination could lead to delays in downstream production and result in negative appraisals from your fellow colleagues.
2. Focus on the little processes
If you are procrastinating because you feel overwhelmed by a project or a difficult assignment, it will be useful if you break it up into smaller processes and manageable tasks with deliverables. Focusing on the tasks that you could overcome first helps to increase your motivation to deliver, making a seemingly impossible task more achievable after you overcome the inertia.
3. Set short-term deadlines and goals
Imposing short-term deadlines for a long-term project will keep you on your toes and reduce the probability of doing it at the last minute. The key is setting short-term goals and a realistic deadline that you are comfortable with. For example, if you want to finish writing a book by the end of the year, set a weekly goal to write 2,000 words or a chapter or whatever you deem reasonable.
4. Review your progress
Situations may not always go to plan. Hence, reviewing your progress periodically helps to ensure that you stay on course. It could even trigger an alarm to re-calibrate your plan if you are far off the mark. As you progress, looking at the completed milestones could also bring about a sense of accomplishment that will help to increase your confidence and motivation to complete the entire task.
5. Reward yourself
Giving yourself small treats while advancing progressively with task can provide additional motivation. As a catalyst to drive you forward, the reward should be meaningful and commensurate with the significance of the task. For me, a dark chocolate treat for finishing every point in this article was one of my rewards to pull me through the wee hours. You will know best on what rewards are more fulfilling. A point to note though, cheating on the reward system is akin to procrastination and does not help at all in completing the entire task.
Written by Chin Hock
A version of the article was published in Straits Times Recruit Section dated 7th Mar 2017
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Chin Hock (Holdinghands in the Media)
Founder of Holdinghands and Filial Piety Award Recipient 2013