When I was in elementary school, my younger sister and I took piano lessons. According to our teacher, we needed to practice for 30 minutes everyday to prepare for our recital.
While I enjoyed playing the piano, I didn’t like it as much as playing outside with my friends.
When we came home after school, my sister would head straight to the piano and complete her practice. I, on the other hand, would wait until the last-minute to practice. As a result, I was always rushing to get through my exercises.
Over the next couple of weeks, we each prepared our music for the recital in secret. When the big day came, I sat down at the piano in my pretty dress and played a basic tune. Everyone clapped and I was very proud of my accomplishment, until my sister began to play.
She performed an advanced piano selection. As I watched her, I realized why it was important to practice.
While my skills improved, my sister’s skills improved dramatically. Why? Because I was procrastinating while she was practicing.
There are many reasons leaders procrastinate. One of the main reasons is the task at hand seems too overwhelming or difficult.
The way out of this situation is to break the task down into smaller pieces. This allows you to see that it’s a process and it shows you exactly where you need to start first.
Here are five tips you can use to help yourself avoid procrastination:
- Create milestones and deadlines
In every big task, there are many milestones and deadlines. These can be further broken down into tasks that are achievable daily. With most big tasks, these small milestones need to be done in a certain order. This makes it easy for you because you can see the individual steps. Try to identify milestones and deadlines within the big tasks you have to tackle, and then break the big tasks down.
- Break it into smaller tasks, again
What if you break down a big task into smaller ones and you still can’t get started? Again, you may be procrastinating because your small tasks aren’t small enough. This means you need to break them down further. You really can’t break down tasks too small. If a task is something that takes only a few minutes to do, you’ll find it much easier to avoid procrastinating and get it done.
- Set time limits
If you’re still having trouble getting started, try setting time limits. Even the biggest procrastinator on earth can take five minutes out of their day to work on a project. No matter how overwhelming or intimidating the project is, working on it for only five minutes is easy. It’s much easier to work on a large-scale project when there’s a time limit where you stop and work on other tasks.
- Make a detailed plan
If you like to plan, make a detailed plan for the first few steps or tasks, and start working on those tasks. Plan for the next few tasks only as you move forward on the project. This gives you flexibility in case you need to make changes. Over-planning can be another form of procrastination. This leads to the next tip…
- Avoid over-planning
When you see how easy it is to break down big projects into small tasks, it’s tempting to create a detailed plan with all the steps involved and a timeline for getting it done. Creating a detailed plan may help, but it may also hurt. You need to be flexible because at the beginning of a project there’s no way to account for all the variables and things that may change along the way.
By using these tips to address procrastination, you will become a more effective leader. Beware however, you may constantly need to battle the tendency to procrastinate.
To avoid procrastinating, try breaking it down!
Dr. Kim Moore, guiding YOU to lead with confidence!
Dr. Kim Moore
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