Minseok Song shares his wisdom on how to be (a little bit) less of a procrastinator.
Have you ever spent hours in front of a computer, trying to finish work? I have. Many times. I have spent enough time trying to overcome procrastination throughout my life that I have become an expert in the matter. In this article, I will review four methods to overcome procrastination. I wanted to review ten, but as you can imagine, I left everything for the last minute and could not write more. Sorry about that.
Breaking the main task down into smaller pieces
The trick is to identify your main task and break it into small chunks which are both easier and faster to finish. Procrastinators often find it hard to start a task because they feel intimidated. Breaking tasks into smaller pieces helps us overcome the problem by making tasks less intimidating and overwhelming. For example, the task of writing an article can be broken into brainstorming, making an outline, writing a paragraph, and so on.
I tried it and recommend it. Without this method, I would get stuck at some point while working and spend hours banging my head against the wall feeling desperate and end up doing other things which are not in priority. But after trying this method, I could get things done as it made me think about what steps I should actually take to finish the task when I hit a wall. For example, “Write down possible subjects” and “Select one” rather than “Find a subject”. I checked if I was making any progress more often in a shorter period of time and changed direction or broke down the task into even smaller pieces. It was a before-and-after; I highly encourage you to try if you are feeling like I was. One caveat is that breaking tasks into small pieces itself can become another unbreakable task from time to time.
Make a “deliverable” deliverable as soon as possible
What happens to us procrastinators is that we spend all the time procrastinating and we are always short on time, so we make poor deliverables or miss deadlines. The trick, then, is to follow something similar to the Agile method, by which an iteration of deliverables is developed. The idea is that at least you will not miss the deadline and you will still have a better outcome than the one that you make under pressure near the ultimate deadline. The most important thing is that it makes you “do” rather than worry. As you actually “do,” the tasks become easier.
To be honest, this is a technique I came up with after trying everything Google had to offer and it has worked the best so far. The best part has been not missing deadlines. With this technique I always have something to deliver and many times the results are good though I feel I can do better; I used to be trapped in endless iterations of perfectionism. However, it’s easier said than done. If making a “deliverable” deliverable still makes you feel overwhelmed, there’s nothing I can do for you. Sorry.
The alpha and omega of time management, writing down endless to-do lists and deadlines. Non-procrastinators love showing us their neat planners full of crossed out items. In simple words, using a planner involves writing to-do tasks and allocating them to certain dates. It helps us focus on doing rather than worrying about things to do. If you are at all into time management trending topics, you have probably heard of the Franklin Planner, which promises to turn you into Steve Jobs, one to-do item at a time.
Been there, done that, did not work. This is one of the first things procrastinators try when they try to stop procrastinating. It is a simple concept and is being used by many great people. Unfortunately, this is what actually happens to us (happened to me). You have so much work and you are overwhelmed. You decide to use a planner, write all the tasks on hand and finally allocate them to certain dates. Awesome! You feel a sense of accomplishment which you have never felt for a while. You decide to have a break since you have put so much effort into planning and you deserve it. Come back from the break and get to work, only to find yourself not making any progress. Decide to plan again thinking that you will plan better this time. Using a planner works for many people but not for us so stay away from this.
Self-explanatory title; if we cannot stick to deadlines, why not just pretend they do not exist? No deadline, no problem.
Got me into a lot of trouble. Do not try this at home.
To all my fellow procrastinators out there, never forget that you are not alone. Until we conquer procrastination, keep trying! And let me know if you find new techniques that have worked for you.
Disclaimer: Yes, I did miss the “original” deadline. Yes, this was supposed to be in the May’s Harbus issue. But, yes, I’m also proud of myself…
Minseok Song was born and raised in Korea. He studied business, worked at an automotive company and then left it all to start his own bracelet company in Spain (Del Mar Bracelets). He loves scuba diving and traveling. He is a proud section I partner.