Are you a procrastinator? Is there something you’re supposed to do (or do you have a list of things to do) that you keep avoiding? Have you been telling yourself that you’re too busy to do it now or you’re not in the right frame of mind to tackle it right this second?
If you’ve ever been in this position, you’re guilty of using some of the most common procrastination excuses.
It’s easy to procrastinate at work where you’re often asked to complete tasks and projects that you don’t like. Who could blame you for putting them off until another day?
But how do you crush those procrastination excuses and get stuff done?
It’s time to stop procrastinating and start doing!
Following are five of the most common procrastination excuses that people use at work and tips to get even the most deplorable things on your To Do list done.
Excuse #1: “I have all of these other things I have to do before I can tackle that project.”
Can those other things wait or are you just using them as an excuse not to tackle the project you’re dreading? Don’t keep bumping other less important things to the top of your To Do list so you can ignore that dreaded project.
Instead, rewrite your To Do list as if you were asking a colleague to complete everything on your list. Prioritize the tasks in the order you’d like your colleague to complete them for you.
Next, cross your colleague’s name off of the top of the list and write your name in that space. Now, the list is yours. Commit to completing it just as you’d expect another employee to complete it.
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Excuse #2: “I’m not in the right frame of mind to work on that project right now.”
When will you be in the right frame of mind? If you’re dreading a project so much that you’re procrastinating, then there will probably never be a time when you’re in the right frame of mind to work on it.
Instead, think about how you can mentally prepare yourself to work on the project. Would a walk outdoors refresh your mind? Would a quieter environment enable you to concentrate?
Take some time to pump yourself up mentally or you’ll never get in the “right” frame of mind.
Excuse #3: “I need a lot of time to work on that project and I know I’ll keep getting interrupted if I start now.”
How can you reduce your interruptions? It’s hard to limit interruptions when you’re working, but it’s not impossible.
Instead of pretending that you’ll never be able to work on the project, turn off your computer and phone so you can’t answer your email, check Facebook, watch YouTube videos, or answer your phone. Close the door to your office or move to a quieter desk or conference room to “hide” from the interruptions.
You can also work on the project at home or early in the morning or in the evening when the office is quieter. A trick used by many corporate executives is to arrive at the office two or three hours before other employees in order to get some uninterrupted work time in each day.
Excuse #4: “My boss shouldn’t have given me this project, so I’m going to do it whenever I get to it.”
Is this what you used to say to your parents when they told you to clean your room? if so, how did that work out for you? I’m guessing not well, and you’ll get the same results if you use this excuse at work. In fact, this type of behavior can do significant harm to your career.
It doesn’t matter if you think you should be working on a project or not. If your boss assigns it to you, you can plead your case to have it re-assigned. However, if your boss decides that you’re the right person for the project, you need to complete it. Anything less than your best performance will be viewed negatively and can have a direct effect on your future job opportunities.
Rather than complaining about the project, accept your fate and do it. If your problem is inexperience or a lack of knowledge, then ask colleagues for help. Showing initiative to get assistance will help your career in the long-run — long after you’ve forgotten this project that shouldn’t have been given to you.
Excuse #5: “I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t do anything right now.”
Will you really feel less overwhelmed after you take a break? If not, you need to come up with a plan to tackle your To Do list rather than procrastinating.
Feeling overwhelmed can be a real reason why you’re not getting things done, but it can also be a procrastination excuse if you’re not doing anything to help yourself feel less overwhelmed.
Rewrite your To Do list with firm deadlines for each project and stick to it. Break larger projects up into smaller tasks with deadlines for each.
It’s very probable that you’re over-complicating things. By breaking your To Do list up into smaller parts, what once seemed overwhelming might seem much simpler.
Ending Procrastination Starts with Admitting You’re Procrastinating
Of course, the best advice to overcome procrastination is to just do it, but that’s often easier said than done considering that 20% of people admit to being chronic procrastinators.
The first step to overcoming procrastination is recognizing that you’re making excuses to not do something.
All of that procrastination is far more time-consuming and stressful than just diving in and attacking your To Do list with determination. The best advice is truly is to just do it, and reward yourself each time you cross another item off your list.
How do you stop yourself from procrastinating? Share your tips in the comments below.
Originally published 7/28/15. Updated 5/22/19.