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5 tips to help manage procrastination

Last week was National Procrastination Week so it inspired a theme for some of the articles in our monthly newsletter (which ironically is one week late.) That is just dripping in irony.

For years, I have been a proponent of time management and organization. But I can and do procrastinate when there is something I simply don’t want to handle. Whether it’s that grumpy customer or an employee issue, the situation isn’t going away. It’s best to deal with it head on.

The hard things you need to deal with right away. What about the everyday items we keep putting off. I work with a lot of clients who struggle with trying to manage and juggle a variety of tasks in a busy day.  They will either put off reading emails, not reply to a phone call because, like the paragraph above, it’s a grumpy customer, or they will avoid updating items in their CRM. It’s not that they don’t know how to manage these situations – it’s either that they don’t have the time or they simply don’t want to do them.

I can totally relate.

What I have gleaned from several of the books I have read on time management is that procrastination is something everyone deals with. And for a variety of reasons.  However, there was a theme throughout all the books that talked about ways to handle procrastination.

Here’s a few of the ideas and how you can handle them in your CRM (as you probably already know, in my case it is Act!).

1.Break down the task into smaller bits. Sometimes it’s a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) that is our procrastination victim. Use the Pomodoro technique to break it down into 25 minute segments. Work one, take a break, work another, take a break. You can stretch out the breaks into days if this is a very large effort. Use activity series in Act! to schedule the first task, wait a day, schedule the next task, etc. You could even name the series BHAG.  Set the time for when it has to be done and work backwards with your series.

2. Find out when is your power time – are you a morning or afternoon person. Then put an item on your calendar, during your power time, to work on things that you tend to put on the back burner. If it’s calls, schedule them all in a row. Get them done and out of the way. Same goes for email. Schedule it at regular times so it becomes a habit. I set up a custom activity type with a different icon so they show up easily on my calendar.

3. If paper is your nemesis for procrastination, follow one of the classic organization tips – only touch the paper once. Touch it – handle it. Sounds easy. Trust me it is not. But if you can do this with half of a pile of paper, that’s one half of the problem solved. Make this a timeslot on your calendar - call it what it is - "manage the paper dragon." If your staff sees this on the calendar I'll bet they steer clear to let you finish the task.

4. Make a list of things you were going to do tomorrow. Now pick one thing on the list that you can do right now – and finish it. You haven’t tackled the whole list, but now, it’s one item less. All tasks should be on your calendar - because if you have open spots on the calendar it means you can be working on something else. Keeping your calendar full makes you focus on the things you need to accomplish.  One of my favorite books said Plan your day, work your day, end your day, repeat. So take one of the items from your "tomorrow" and move it to today if you get an open timeslot. It is a magical feeling of accomplishment when you can check off a task from your list.

5. Stop trying to be perfect. This is the one I suffer from the most. In everything I do I want it to be the best and when I cannot accomplish that, for whatever reason, I will push things to the back rather than confront the fact I couldn’t do the best I wanted to. Which of course then makes it worse. Tackling the issue head on is the best solution. I tend to put those calls I really don’t want to make on my Act! calendar first thing in the morning so I can get them done and out of the way.

These are just a few of the ways to avoid or at least soften the procrastination demon. Do you have ideas that have worked for you? We’d love to hear about them.  We’d also love to share with you other techniques you can use, inside Act!, to make your world run a little bit smoother.  Visit our website to learn more. www.egenconsulting.com

Patricia Egen Consulting, LLC

803 Creek Overlook, Chattanooga, TN 37415
Main office: 423-875-2652 • Arizona office: 480-788-7504 • Florida office: 754-300-2827