The problem with procrastination is that so few people take the time to do it right.
Really! Anyone can miss a deadline or fail to show up for critical meetings three weeks in a row, but to do absolutely nothing in the face of constant pressure from your manager takes gumption. It's like being attacked by a pack of rabid wolverines and thinking to yourself, "I really should put 'run' on my to-do list."
It's true that working remotely does make it easier to procrastinate. In the office, if you wanted to avoid work, your only choice was to visit the marketing department. No chance of any work going on there. At home, you have a sourdough starter to feed, a rabbit to worm and a bed to make, assuming you got out of bed in the first place.
Of course, there are some who believe procrastination is a problem that should be corrected, like Bryan Robinson, the author of "Working Remote and 10 Things You Can Do to Prevent Procrastination," a recent post on Forbes.
As Robinson so colorfully points out, those who procrastinate can find themselves "catapulted into a swirl of adrenaline and cortisol stew." This is because, deep down, the key ingredient in that stew is a feeling of inferiority. Procrastinators believe that the negative feedback they'll get for not doing the work is better than the negative feedback they'll get for actually completing it.
I'm going to have to put off describing all 10 of Robinson's techniques for curbing procrastination — that rabbit is not going to worm itself — but here are my five faves:
No. 1: "Break Things Down Into Microsteps."
The goal here is to "trick your emotional brain." This won't be easy because, rather than complete your giant, bone-crushing assignment, your emotional brain prefers to lie on your comfy couch and watch season 24 of "The Bachelor."
The strategy here is to break up the assignment into microsteps that are "easy and doable." For example, on day no. 1, sit up. On day no. 2, walk to your desk.
In the days ahead, continue to take microsteps. Plug in your computer; turn on your computer; put on your pants. Stretch out enough microsteps, and your manager will take a macrostep by firing you and your emotional brain. Then the two of you can get back to "The Bachelor." (I always knew Peter would dump Madison. Didn't you?)
No. 2: "Curb Your Perfectionism."
Accept the fact that you are not perfect. You make mistakes. You make lots and lots of mistakes. Once you have accepted the fact that any project you start is very likely to end in disaster, you won't be afraid to tackle new projects. Or, maybe, you'll put more energy into making up better excuses to avoid new projects. Either way, don't be so hard on yourself; your manager will do that.
No. 3: "Chill Your 'Musturbation.'"
I didn't say it. Psychologist Albert Ellis invented the word. The idea here is to stop "bludgeoning (yourself) with oppressive words such as must, should, ought and have to." I recommend you replace these oppressive words with friendly words such as, "I never got the email," "My computer crashed" and, "It's really Janet's fault; she was supposed to do that job, not me."
No. 4: "Avoid Labeling Yourself a Procrastinator."
You don't want to "identify with the very habit that you want to untangle from." The real reason you're constantly late with assignments is that you're "thoughtful." You're "careful." You're "cautious" and "want to fully research any prospective project completely before finishing the work."
In another words, if the ancient Egyptians didn't do weekly sales reports, why should you?
No. 5: "Block Out Ambient Noise."
Excess noise can "interfere with concentration and make you want to find something else to do." Since almost everything your manager says is excess noise, you'll want to block the growing cacophony of insults and threats. You could spring for noise-canceling headphones, but why spend your hard-earned money? Buy a red plastic bucket, and wear it over your head. It's not only an effective noise blocker but also a great look, so be sure to keep your bucket on during Zoom meetings. Your participation will be noticed, but no one will understand a word you're saying. This is a real advantage for you.
Best of all, your identity will be masked, so you can hire someone else to take your place in meetings. While you're at it, let them do your procrastinating for you. You'll get around to it later.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: tookapic at Pixabay