How to Beat Procrastination: The 10-Minute Jump Start

Time keepersDo not put this technique off until tomorrow! (We’re messing with you)! Seriously, procrastination is a self-defeating habit that can literally destroy careers and decimate your bottom line. We have found that most man­agers and supervisors perpetuate a pattern of delay that reinforces their procrastination habit—and models a detrimental behavior for employees that can lead to disengagement, disillusion, and disorganization—all of which create a stressful, unproductive work environment. So what’s a leader to do? Start with yourself, then pass this technique on to your employees.

Step 1: Recognize it! Once the pattern is identified, you can attack and overcome it – without delay! We’re asking you to be brutally honest with yourself. Until you recognize your delay tactics, you can’t modify or eliminate non-pro­ductive behavior. So get rid of all the facades and excuses in your repertoire related to procrastination.

Are you really a procrastinator? Do you make a habit of putting off until tomorrow what you can do today? If so, you aren’t alone. Everyone pro­crastinates in some area of his/her life. Yes … everyone! Wait a minute … (we’re teasing)! That puts you in some very good company.

The key is not to eliminate procrastination … that’s setting yourself up for failure. Rather, the key is to manage it. Recognize it when it comes. Do something to move beyond it. Take a bite out of procrastination and get the jump-start you need.

Most people are great at rationalizing their behavior. If you’re like most people (including us), you’re pretty good at it. But have you ever considered that “rationalize” means just that … “ratio­nal lies!” So, identify your cover-up techniques, your “rational lies.” There will probably be a pattern to your ‘procrastination posturing.’

 Time robberExamples we’ve seen (and experi­enced, we must admit) include: getting coffee (or other diversionary eating strategies); cleaning up desk, files, etc.; making phone calls unassociated with work; taking two-hour lunches; reviewing low-potential client files; rewrit­ing low-priority material; attending unnecessary meetings (or initiating them); photocopying reports (or cartoons); adding new phone apps; and the list goes on and on. Anything sound familiar? The question to ask yourself is: What #1 priority am I avoiding by using these stall tactics? (Click here for our Time Robbers Quiz, and a tip sheet to manage the top 5 Time Robbers)

Step 2: Take Action with the Ten Minute Jump Start! This technique sounds too simple to be true, but trust us. It works!

ClockSet a timer, watch alarm, phone app, or clock for ten min­utes. Then take some action toward moving your procrastinated project closer to completion.

However – and this is very important – give yourself permission to stop working on the project when the alarm sounds. It’s as simple as that. At least 90% of the time you won’t want to stop because you will have become involved in the project. You see, the problem with procrastinators is not doing something … it’s get­ting started!

A word to the wise: You must be honest with yourself. If you really want to stop when the alarm goes off, do it! Stop, guilt-free! You’ll no doubt feel a bit more satis­fied. And productive. And proud of yourself for accomplishing something you’ve put off for much too long. And schedule your next 10-minute jump start, to continue moving forward on the project.

If you beat yourself up for having procrastinated previously, or for deciding to stop after 10 minutes, you won’t reap the full benefits of this strategy. If you’re going to put anything off, put off your self recrimination and chose to celebrate your ability to attack your procrastination instead.

star-celebration.2We thought we’d put this suggestion off until now. (Just kidding!) In addition to the 10-minute Jump Start procrastination buster, ask yourself: What rewards can I establish to motivate myself to action? The value of the reward can range from a colle­giate-type star on your calendar to an afternoon on the golf course,  tennis court, or spa. The only condition is that the reward must be totally and completely in your control to give to yourself. We’ve found it most effective to match the value of the reward with the degree of avoidance you are experienc­ing.

Use this 10-Minute Jump-Start Technique to successfully move beyond procrastination into a bias for action. And then, share your secret with your employees so they can give up the procrastination pattern and reap the rewards!

9781893095038-smallThis technique came from the book Living at the Speed of Life: Staying in Control in a World Gone Bonkers!  You’ll find tons of other great techniques related to overcoming fear and doubt, enjoying good physical and mental health, communicating effectively, building a prosperity consciousness, creating joy and meaning in your work, enriching interpersonal relationships, and transforming time robbers.

About Cher & Bil Holton

Since 1984, Cher & Bil Holton have been co-owners of The Holton Consulting Group, Inc., helping corporate and association clients enhance bottom-line results using cutting edge employee engagement. Their keynote speeches, turbo-training, and coaching sessions are practical, grounded in research, and lots of fun to boot! They are prolific authors, and take "Indiana Jones" vacations to continually stretch their limits!
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