Five Ways to Prevent Procrastination From Zapping Your Energy and Productivity

Do you hate filing, and just stack it up in a pile? Do you procrastinate sorting your mail and it becomes a huge mound by the end of the week? Do you avoid making those phone calls? Are there more important decisions and tasks you avoid?

We all have things we dislike or even hate, and it’s tempting to just put them off until later. But by doing so, they simply grow into larger unpleasant tasks!

Why do we procrastinate?

– Sometimes we procrastinate because we are undisciplined or even lazy and don’t force ourselves to make a decision. This is a huge time waster. Instead of making a decision while the subject is fresh, we can tend to set it aside – either literally in a pile or mentally. One down side of this approach is that it will take additional time later to re-engage with the subject at hand. While the decision is left undone, it has the power to zap energy. It is draining to see stacks of undone work or to have unresolved decisions nagging us.

In addition, with some decisions, options narrow the longer we wait, creating stress and missed opportunities. This is multiplied if the decision affects others.

– Another reason we procrastinate is that we need more information in order to make a decision. If the amount of information needed to make a competent decision is large and overwhelming, it may be difficult to get started. Again, procrastination drains energy and creates stress and possibly lost opportunities.

– Lack of time to decide or act is another cause of procrastination – a valid one many times. Even if a decision is made, failure to follow through is another form of procrastination.

– Not scheduling unpleasant tasks allows them to be ignored. This may seem to work on a short-term basis, but it catches up to you eventually. 
Whatever the cause of procrastination, productivity suffers. It’s difficult to focus because undone decisions and tasks create distractions and mental clutter. And procrastination produces a weighed-down feeling, a real energy-drainer.

Procrastination also affects how your productivity is viewed by others. If you have stacks of procrastination in your office or home, it may cause others to question your efficiency or productivity. And your own sense of productivity takes a hit when you are surrounded by procrastinated clutter.

How do we avoid procrastination?

1. Consider the cost of procrastination. Realize that you are saving yourself time, stress and lost opportunities when you choose to act. By making a decision, you have a sense of accomplishment which gives you a feeling of productivity. And that translates into increased motivation and energy.

2. Plan in time to follow through on decisions. If, for example, when you go through your mail, an item needs to be filed, you can file it immediately, or you can set aside time each day or each week to do filing. Use time when your brain needs a break from intensive work to do filing – it can serve as a decluttering task as well as a mental break to refresh your mind.

3. If you are too busy to make a decision at the moment, schedule a time to address the issue in a timely manner. If more information is needed for an informed decision, plan in time to research missing information. Or delegate the research to someone else, if possible.

4. Set deadlines for tasks or decisions you tend to put off. You will feel empowered by being proactive.

5. Take a step back and evaluate what tasks or decisions you tend to procrastinate and why. Brainstorm possible solutions. If you need some help, ask someone to be a sounding board.

Increase your energy and productivity – stop procrastinating now! Start with small steps if you have to, but make forward progress.

Beverly Coggins is an organizing expert, speaker and author of the 1-2-3…Get Organized series, books, workbooks, and ebooks written for the organizationally overwhelmed. Her blog contains tips on organizing time and space. Contact information: 330-922-0755