I’ll do it tomorrow... procrastinitis – part 3

Hello everyone! Congratulations! Over the past two weeks you’ve cleared the first – and most difficult – hurdle: making a start.

Did you know that asking yourself “How do I get started?” is more important than wondering “What do I have to do?”? Welcome to the third part of my tutorial!

First of all, it’s time to reflect once again. Take a look at your record for the last two weeks:

What tasks have you completed? How did it go? How do you feel about the project today? Notice any differences between weeks 1 and 2?

Make a conscious note of the things you’ve already dealt with and how far your approach to this project so far differs from previous ones. Jot down your thoughts.

And be proud of the changes you’ve made!

Part 3: Take off in your mental helicopter and find the approach that’s right for you

Now, it’s a question of consolidating your progress, concentrating and working calmly towards the conclusion of the project.

Take off in your mental helicopter

You’ve gained a lot of experience with your project over the last two weeks. Now you’re finally ready for a bird’s eye view which will help you take in the bigger picture.

But first, it’s time for another experiment. Imagine that the project is a mountain of jobs that need to be dealt with. In your mind’s eye, picture yourself taking off in a helicopter and going on a reconnaissance flight: how high is the mountain really? How much and what exactly do you still have to do?

Think about the progress you’ve made and let it all sink in – after all, you’ve chipped away huge chunks of this mountain over the last couple of weeks!

Draw up a flexible, “living” plan

Planning is an important way to bring structure to your work, but it should never be allowed to hijack the process. Especially among people who are prone to procrastination, endless planning is a frequently used – and time-consuming – form of evasive action. So make sure you don’t fall into this trap. Instead, devote a specific amount of time to planning – one project session at the most.

You’ve already identified some simple and more difficult tasks, and after your helicopter flight, you should now have a clear overview of what still needs to be done.

As things stand, how many project sessions – roughly – do you still need? Depending on how much time you actually have left, any deadlines, etc., work out how many project sessions you will need each day over the coming week.

Keep in mind that your plan needs to stay flexible and provisional. By definition, your estimates are still not precise and they will change as you make more headway on the project.

Take off in your helicopter at least once and ideally twice a week, so you can update your snapshot of the situation as things currently stand. Adopting this approach means you regularly set aside a specific amount of time to update your plan.

Remember, it has to be a “living” plan that can evolve alongside the project. You should adapt the plan to your way of working, not the other way round!

Find the approach that’s right for you

Think about the way you’ve allocated your time in the past: what experiences do you have of working in 30-minute bursts? If you managed to keep your attention focused on your project for this period of time, why not try stretching it out to 45 minutes at the most? After that, you should definitely take a break of 10-15 minutes.

But if you notice your concentration flagging, go back to working for 30 minutes, or less if needs be. And don’t worry: on this point, different people respond in very different ways. The type and difficulty of the task you’re doing also plays an important part. And let’s not forget that we’re not always on top form every single day. In that case, it’s better to work for shorter periods with breaks in between.

You should always start off with your warm-ups and then switch to more difficult jobs once you’ve completed at least one easy task – these successes will settle any nagging doubts you might have inside, helping to push them out of your mind.

Again, it’s all about finding the approach that fits you best: how long do your warm-ups need to be? As far as this is concerned, your frame of mind on a particular day is important – sometimes, you’ll need to focus on only doing routine tasks until you start finding it easier to get ahead.

The steps in part 3 will be part of your approach right through to the end of the project.

Next week we’ll move on to part 4: Give the busy bees a chance – developing a new self-concept

If you have any questions or would like to arrange an appointment, you can reach me at angelika.groh@fh-vie.ac.at.


Contact:

If you have any questions or would like to have a consultation, please contact me at:

Groh, Angelika

Psychologist

+43 1 720 12 86-13

angelika.groh@fh-vie.ac.at