Is it possibly so that you are responsible for completing a recurring task which you tend to repeatedly postpone until last second and finish just before you run out of time? If so, then you will benefit from reading today’s tip.
Perhaps you are getting tired of always doing it last second since you are aware of how stressed it makes you feel. No need to feel ashamed — I have been there, done that. And will most likely do it again.
One thing leads to another
Would I be wrong to say that this tendency to procrastinate is sparked when something unpredicted, inconvenient and extraordinary occurs? Perhaps we catch the flu and get behind on all our work, which then easily turns into a vicious circle. We end up starting on that recurring task late and therefore have to prioritize it above all other tasks in order to finish it on time, which makes all other tasks delayed as well and we end up completing them at the last minute too. By the time they are done, the next deadline for that recurring task is almost upon us, which we again complete at the very last minute, and on it goes …
Get ahead before you are behind
This cycle is indeed a vicious one, and can easily drain us of both energy, motivation and our good mood. It would be better if we managed to turn the whole situation around and ensure that we no longer fall into the same negative spiral. What if we were not only up to date and on time with the recurring task, but even before schedule? Stress is replaced by reassurance and relaxation.
It is possible and doable. But it does require a bit of will-power and some extra effort, which will be worth its while later on.
Making a push now will allow us to relax later
You know, this situation is comparable to cycling. There is a good reason why one of the cyclists in the group puts in that little extra bit of energy and gets ahead of everyone else. He is given an advantage and some edge, and can later afford to relax a little without losing his position as the leading cyclist.
So, make a push and put in a little more effort. Spend some extra time and energy on one or a few tasks which you will prioritize more for the next few days. This way you will get ahead with these particular tasks and feel great that you are now in a position to relax a little and enjoy the feeling of being ahead.
Doing this will also give you more time for the tasks that truly matters, but which are not desperately urgent and which you otherwise tend to postpone week after week.
- Decide to work with a recurring task which you are responsible for completing.
- Set a goal for how far ahead you want to get with the task. Do you want to have four (whatever the task concerns) completely prepared instead of one? Do you want to be three weeks ahead of schedule? Do you want to complete half of what is due in two months by the end of next month?
- Reserve as much time as you possibly can in the next couple of weeks which you dedicate to only working with the targeted task. Do you find it difficult to set aside time specifically for this since you have so many other things to do at the moment as well? If you can spare just fifteen minutes every day for this task, it will eventually get you ahead, even if only by a little. But if you can manage to set aside more time, you will get ahead faster. The choice is yours.
- If you want to, schedule the reserved time in your calendar so that it is easier for you to stick to your plan and so that you do not fill your days and time with meetings instead of working on the task as intended.
- It is now time to get to work. Take a few deep breaths and prepare to exert a bit more effort than usual. You will soon notice how wonderful is is to be ahead of schedule. Notice how you probably even enjoy the exertion of that extra effort, and how you might even be tempted to do just a little bit more to get ahead even faster.
- That’s that! Now feel the difference. Remember how stressed you felt by being delayed and having to finish the task last second, and compare it to how it feels now when you are well ahead of yourself. Well done!
Rid yourself of that bad conscience
If you make an extra effort to get ahead with something which was previously subject to procrastination, your schedule will become more spacious and flexible without you having to do fewer things. You will to a greater extent have the opportunity to use your time as you please, and your workdays will simply become more enjoyable.
Do you have any other good ideas?
How do you avoid getting behind on your work, and instead be ahead of schedule with your tasks? Tell me!