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A Guide to Managing Time

5. Implementation: Procrastination

Let’s leave this topic until tomorrow!

According to the feedback we have had from people attending our time management workshops we all of us procrastinate at least some of the time, and some people do it a lot of the time, even though it inevitably leads to rushed deadlines, more stress and lower levels of effectiveness.

The excuses (‘reasons?’) that we hear about most often are:

• ‘The job is too big / too difficult’ So there is never a good time to start it and a subconscious desire to avoid it.

• ‘New areas, new skills’. Maybe you are not trained or have little experience in this area and would prefer to stick with the things that you know well.

• ‘You hate doing it’ Disciplinaries for example. You hate them and so you can always think of at least one more urgent little tasks that needs to be done first.

• ‘Risky decisions’ You have to decide but you are afraid that you may make the wrong decision. The longer you delay deciding the longer to delay failing. So perhaps you decide to look for more information first.

• ‘Low energy levels’ It has been a difficult day and the last thing you want to do is start on that pile of paper.

Five quick steps that might help you:

• Think Positive: Force yourself to acknowledge those things that you are most likely to procrastinate over and decide that you are going to face up to them. Rationalise the subconscious fears – ask yourself what is the worst that can happen if you get it wrong. (Of course if one wrong move really will bring about Armageddon then you need to ask yourself whether you are in the right job and what your escape plan is.)

• Break it Down: Big jobs can seem overwhelming and will never fit into a busy day. Break them down into pieces that you can manage.

• Worst First: At the start of each day do the worst job first. It gets it out of the way, after which the outlook for the rest of the day will seem so much nicer, and you get it done before displacement sets in and presents you with six nicer things to do instead.

• Start! Our experience strongly indicates that it is easier to keep going than it is to get started. Set a start time. Clear your desk and your mind and focus only on the first step that you need to take to get the job started.

• Reward Yourself: Once you have done it stop and take a break, have a cup of coffee and allow yourself a few minutes on one of your ‘favourite’ tasks.

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The Problem with Time

1. The Vision Thing: Creating an Overview
Doing the right thing

2. Priorities: First Things First
What needs to be done and what comes first

3. Working the Plan:
Making time for the important things

4. Delegation:
Getting more done through others

> 5. Procrastination:
Think positive and do it now!

6. Perfect, Perfect, Perfection:
Quantity versus quality - Knowing when to move on

7. Putting Time Management to Work:
So much for the theory, now for the practice