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Overcoming procrastination in your professional life

Procrastination is a major hurdle for many people, especially those with attention deficit disorder which happens to be many bloggers who have “shiny object syndrome” given the rise of the internet and social networks (and subsequently tech tools).

Some people set goals and others freely float about the business of doing business, but we found this artistic video about procrastination to be quite interesting:

Procrastination is not knowing how to start something and ultimately not knowing how to finish. Interesting, no?

The first step of overcoming procrastination is literally envisioning the process of the task from start to finish (emphasis on start) before you jump in, otherwise you begin a task and in the midst of your task, you’re making tea, checking email, making tea and making tea (or coffee, this is America).

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Scenario one

Blogging is a great example of a task that is easy to procrastinate about- you sit at the computer and decide “I am going to blog.” You open your feed reader for inspiration and suddenly, your task becomes clearing your feed reader and two hours later, you’ve finished that task and must begin your blogging task again. You’re inspired and you open WordPress and see all the comments in moderation that must be approved and you click those to decide spam versus real and then you email the legitimate commenters with follow up questions (they’re buying a house, you must reach out quickly). While in your email, you see forty pending messages that require a quick peek, but one is a lead and you must call them right away, they make an appointment at lunch in an hour and you get your documents in order, go to the appointment, then in the afternoon return.

Oh yeah, you were blogging. Okay, let’s blog. You start writing and you need some data from the MLS, so you open the MLS and you see an alert and the Board wants you to know about a class that is upcoming, you’re interested, so you go sign up. Oh yeah, you were blogging. So you start writing and you need to find a picture, you remember a great picture that was tweeted the other day and you open Twitter and OMG you have seven @ messages and four DMs, one of which is a lead. You get on the phone and leave a message and go back to Twitter, respond to all messages, put out a few fresh tweets and go back go finding the picture and go back to your blog. As you’re waiting for the picture to upload, you realize you haven’t watched the news at all, so while you’re waiting, you turn on the tv. You see an attractive story about a tragedy somewhere and you sit still for ten minutes, then realize your pic uploaded and you can go back to blogging.

You save your blog, hit preview and while waiting for the page to load, you remember that you haven’t checked Facebook yet and someone with money might be trying to contact you there, so you head over and OMG you have three inbox messages, 12 friend requests and you’ve been mentioned six times, better check those. Nothing important, so you head back to your blog preview. It looks good so you hit publish.

Scenario two

Open a text editor, type up blog article, add picture, preview and publish. The end.

This second scenario acts as more of an appointment with yourself that ignores all distractions. Some people physically write on their calendar when they will blog and their assistants know to take over the phones and the like. Others write at night from home in the quiet.

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Ignore the internet, ignore the phone and you’ll spend 30 minutes instead of 12 hours, because distractions are a form of procrastination from your tasks. Multi-tasking is not always effective.

How do you overcome procrastination in your daily tasks? How do you focus?

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Anna Altic

    March 13, 2011 at 10:53 am

    ha ha this was written just for me.

  2. Ken Brand

    March 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Sage advice. Yeah, it’s exactly like that. It’s happening right-now. Uggg.

  3. MH for Movoto

    March 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    As a rabid multi-tasker, I always appreciate (and benefit from) rants against procrastination. Putting this one into effect… NOW.

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