Eat the Frog


Four Strategies to Overcome Procrastination (Part 1)

When you procrastinate, the people you lead will lose confidence in you.

My accountant will tell you I’m one of his first clients to submit annual business documents for tax preparation; not because I love it, it’s quite the opposite.

“Get it done, get it over with,” is my philosophy when it comes to doing things I don’t like. I eat the frog.

We all procrastinate from time to time to avoid tasks that we find unpleasant, and it’s not easy to overcome. It requires self-discipline.

Not dealing with, or putting off, those tasks in the workplace can have a negative impact on your team. One of the fundamentals of leadership is that you are accountable for your actions. Accountability fosters trust, respect and open communication.

If you are seen as someone who is uncommitted, your team will likely adopt the same approach. Procrastinating leaders produce frustrated, apathetic and disengaged followers.

I have three strategies that work for me during those times when ‘you know you should do it, but you just don’t want to’.

Eat that Frog!

Mark Twain has a saying that applies to procrastination:

If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long!

Brian Tracy named his course on time management “Eat that Frog” because of this saying. The frog is anything that you do not want to do.

You should complete your dreaded tasks first. Getting them out of the way will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and keep you from procrastinating.

Always begin with the task that is the hardest and most significant, and you will be less tempted to procrastinate on other activities.

Just Do it!

You need to do more than identify when you procrastinate. You need to discover why.

Discover your obstacles: What do you choose over your tasks?

Discover ways to remove obstacles: Ask for support and take action. For example, you could turn off the Internet and your phone.

Reward yourself: Make the task fun and use small rewards as an incentive.

Once you have identified your frogs and obstacles, the only answer is to take action. Schedule the tasks into your calendar. Once you have scheduled the time, you must follow through. Just do it.

Try the 15-Minute Rule

Lack of time is a common excuse for not completing a task.

We often overestimate the time that it takes to complete tasks, but the 15-minute rule allows you to accurately time your tasks. Set a timer for 15 minutes and work on that dreaded task. Stop when the time is up.

You will be surprised by how many tasks you’ll complete within that short time. If you’re not able to finish, schedule another 15 for the next day.

This allows you to make consistent progress.

Chop it up

The size of a project can also contribute to procrastination.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by a large project. Chop it up into smaller tasks.

The key to overcoming the obstacle of feeling overwhelmed or defeated is to make your goal smaller. Rather than looking at the entire project, focus on a single task.

This technique will create a sense of achievement with each step and improve motivation, allowing you to stay focused as you reach the end of the project.

Watch for the next post where I’ll provide more strategies to help you avoid the temptation to procrastinate.