Can I tell you a secret? I procrastinated on writing this blog post. I know. Super embarrassing.
For as long as I can remember I have been a procrastinator. Because I'm a high achiever, people often ask if things come easy to me, and I must admit that getting over my procrastination habit has been one of the toughest issues I've had to deal with. So much so that I would ask myself, "Am I purposely trying to sabotage my success?"
In every project or paper I've ever handed in, my biggest regret has always been, "I wish I hadn't waited until the last minute." I chronically underestimate how much time a paper or project will take and I rush to get it done often making myself sick in the meantime.
I recently started to feel anxiety and dread about going to work everyday. I love my job and my patients so I couldn't figure out why I was feeling this way. It didn't take me long to realize that it was because I was behind on some paperwork at work. It was often difficult to fill out the paperwork between patients, so I would tell myself that I would stay late.
When 5 o'clock rolled around I would be exhausted and tell myself that I would get to work early the next day. The next day would come, and even though I had made an attempt to arrive early, I would still get to work at the same time. I'll stay late. I'll get here early. The cycle would continue.
Eventually the papers would be so piled up that I would say, "I'll take them home to review this weekend." Once home I was resentful that I could not relax because I had work to complete. I finally came to the realization that until I attacked this issue head on, I was going to continue to have these feelings of anxiety and dread.
I decided that enough was enough and I sat down at my computer to complete the paperwork. The total time to sift through the pile of papers that had been giving me a headache for weeks: 30 minutes. I timed it.
Some of the best tips for overcoming procrastination come from Dr. Neil Fiore and his book The Now Habit. In his chapter The Unschedule he says:
Aim for starting on thirty minutes of quality work
You must take at least one day a week off from any work
You must exercise, play or dance at least one hour a day
Reward yourself with a break or switch to another task after each period worked
Keep track of the number of quality hours worked each day
Tips I've found helpful
1. Forgive yourself. You are a rockstar and you are killing it! Don't let this one paper, project, email get in the way of that!
2. Create an enjoyable environment. If I'm working hard on a project you will more than likely find me curled up in a blanket, with a lit candle, drinking a glass of wine or tea (depending on the project)
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique. It's very similar to what Dr. Fiore talks about in his book. There are apps that you can download to your phone. I currently use 'Be Focused'. It is automatically set to 25 minutes with a 5 minute break scheduled. It will keep track of your working periods and after 4 work periods schedule a longer break.
4. Remember that Done is better than perfect! For years I was caught up in perfectionism thinking that things had to be a certain way. Well they never were! Mostly because I ended up doing them the night before and on occasion the morning of. Get it done and check it off.
What tips do you have for getting stuff done?