You know exactly what I am talking about. You probably know these people…or perhaps you are this person. How can you tell if you are actually being productive versus just seemingly very busy all day long?
Well, let me ask you this: Do you actually check things off your list, make the important calls, respond to the critical emails, and complete projects on a regular basis? If not you are probably confusing being busy with being productive. Here’s how you can determine which camp you are living in.
When asked, “So what did you do today?” do you have to take a bit of time to search for a response?
Do you start a bunch of different things; yet complete few, if any, of them?
Or the worst of all…do you talk about doing the ‘thing’ that you have yet to even begin?
Unfortunately, many people fall into this category and beat themselves up for not following through on their intentions. Procrastination is a serious disease among humanity. Which is rather ironic considering that we can now get information in a matter of seconds that used to take days. The trouble is deciding what step to take next, or having to make a serious decision and being incapable of doing so.
If you want to correct that, then try this process:
- Get Real. What has been on your list or in your mind to do for far too long? Go ahead…be honest…what have you been procrastinating on? If you know what that is, write it down, or enter it onto your task list. Don’t have a task list? Go to learn how to prioritize tasks.
- Schedule it for tomorrow. Don’t wait another day. Ask yourself, “How will I feel if this item/task gets done?” If elation or something similar to that is the emotion – then you need to do this.
- No more excuses! Ask yourself, “What could come between me and getting this task done?” Dismiss the ‘demons of destruction’ you invent before it rears its ugly head – cut it off at the pass. Do not allow anything to interrupt your successful completion of the task you know you need to do.
- Know what is next. Plan something that will follow this task you are planning to complete. In other words, don’t just revel in completion of that one task and feel you have won the prize – you invariably have more to do. So, do more. Complete the other things also on your list. But prioritize!
Chances are when you complete that task that you have been procrastinating on, or even just begin it; you will feel considerably more productive than before. You are now not just busy and wasting time, you are being efficient and using time wisely. AND this success actually spurs MORE successful task completion. There is actually science behind this — check this out:
The Endowed Progress Effect Theory explains that when a person feels that they have begun the process toward their goal – in other words, they have started to get the process in motion, they are more inclined to make more progress and at a faster rate than having not started at all (Nunes & Dréze, 2006). My contention is that by managing one’s tasks better, ie: time management, and scheduling how and when specific tasks will be tackled, this is in essence the beginning of the process of accomplishment and subsequent completion. This step, at least in my professional experience, has shown to spur on the individual to feel that they have begun, and are not starting with a blank slate. The idea of starting is often so difficult that people procrastinate and fail to begin in a timely manner. This then causes a sense of urgency and often the necessary amount of time is not available in order to properly complete the task at hand. This then causes anxiety, stress and overwhelm. All this can lead to depression. This train wreck of events can lead to failure to move forward and thus lack of success.
Lesson: Write down the ‘icky’ thing you know you must do – that is the first step in making it a reality. Then follow the NIKE® slogan, and just do it!
Nunes, J. C., & Dréze, X. (2006). The Endowed Progress Effect: How artificial advancement increases effort. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(4), 504–512. https://doi-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/10.1086/500480