We often associate procrastination with poor organization. In reality, it is above all a problem of self-control and management of attention. To get out of it, we must therefore succeed in creating conditions more favorable to our concentration. Advice from Diane Ballonad Rolland, organizational coach.
Contrary to popular belief, procrastination is not a question of organization or time management. It is above all a question of the ability to self-regulate and control oneself, to accept delaying the pleasure or gratification associated with the completion of a task. To break the vicious circle, we must first understand the reasons that lead us to procrastinate. Procrastination is indeed a conscious mechanism that relies on unconscious springs. So we have to decide what we’re going to focus on.
When we do several tasks at the same time, we tend to prioritize what we know or like to do to the detriment of urgent or important tasks, but less rewarding or more difficult. Multi-tasking is therefore no guarantee of efficiency, especially since we cannot think about two things at the same time. At best, two can be done if one is automated, such as emptying a machine and talking. Last argument against multi-tasking, switching from one subject to another and refocusing requires significant cognitive effort, so we use more mental load than necessary and we get tired more quickly.
Set up a time-limited strategy
As a logical consequence of the first point, we have every interest in avoiding the fragmentation of our time and our energy. The limited time strategy consists of setting a precise and rather short deadline to work on a specific objective. This solution is effective because it promotes concentration. This is the principle of the Pomodoro technique. If this requires you to set 25-minute sessions, nothing prevents you from adapting the principle to your constraints and planning shorter durations. Do not try to lengthen them: a duration close to or greater than 30 minutes suddenly seems inaccessible.
Have a realistic to do list
Preparing a to do list as long as your arm is the best way to fail before you have even started, because it is deeply demotivating and even paralyzing. It is better to organize your to do list in two stages: first, make a complete list of the tasks incumbent on us, which allows you to unload the mind, then decide in this list what will be the two or three main objectives of the day . To arbitrate between different priorities is to make a conscious and considered choice. Some tasks will not be done, but as it is assumed, it is not procrastination!
Accept the idea that “done” is better than “perfect”
Many perfectionists procrastinate because until they’re sure they’re producing something perfect, they won’t take action. One solution is to work in stages, in other words to set intermediate objectives: a general plan, then a detailed plan, a first draft then a second… each small step is an action that tends towards the final objective without being . The perfectionist therefore knows that it could be improved, but at least he has started to act! Before even making the first draft of the plan, it can be useful to ask the person who requested the work for details: sometimes, the gap between the real expectations and what the perfectionist thinks he should do is enormous.
Relieve guilt: procrastination is also good!
The more you procrastinate, the more you feel guilty. But the more we feel guilty, the more we procrastinate… Stop! We are not do-it-yourself machines. Procrastinating is also a form of resistance, a decompression valve in the frenetic pace of our daily lives. Procrastination can even be positive: when the inspiration is not there, the best thing to do is sometimes to put the file aside and come back to it later…
– Turn off sources of distraction : put the phone in silent mode, turn off the TV, put away the packet of cookies. We know that notifications are bad for concentration. But who thinks of deactivating them before getting to work?
– Have a clear medium or long term objective : knowing why you have to do this and that is giving meaning to even daunting tasks. And it motivates!
– Have a specific action plan : If your goal is vague, you will have a hard time achieving it. Knowing what you actually have to do helps you be firm in your desire to take action.
– Offer you real breaks : knowing that in an hour and a half, you will be basking in the sun for half an hour with a good tea, isn’t that a good reason to get down to business now to have peace of mind all along? ‘hour ?
– Do not overload your schedule : there are always unforeseen events in a day. If you have planned too strict a schedule, you will not be able to manage everything if a hazard occurs.
Many thanks to Diane Ballonad Rolland, organizational coach, founder of the firm Temps et Equilibre and author of I stop procrastinating (Eyrolles editions), for his valuable advice.