The latest episode of the My Pocket Psych podcast kicks off our new series on productivity at work. We define productivity simply as doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time.
It’s not simply about churning out more work or a simplistic focus on time management. Hopefully over the next few episodes, we’ll illuminate the topic and bust a few myths along the way.
Pilar and I start by looking at the phenomenon of procrastination – which is the irrational delaying of important tasks. We discuss what procrastination is and why we engage in it – when it’s ultimately a self-defeating activity.
Why do we procrastinate?
A whole host of reasons! We may have a level of anxiety associated with the task (“Ugh, I’ll start that tomorrow when I don’t feel so worried), we might want to do a ‘perfect’ job (“Today’s just not the right day to do this justice”) or we may believe we shouldn’t have to do it (“I’ll show them – I’ll leave it the last minute!).
A very common self-defeating pattern is the belief that you work best under pressure and so leave important work until the last minute. Let’s think about that for a minute. Can you predict what’s going to happen tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Of course not. So you can’t predict what new work and crises will come your way closer to your deadline.
You’re simply gambling with your own success, based on the false belief that putting yourself under needless pressure is somehow beneficial to the quality of your work.
Once again, we come back to the topic of discomfort.
Usually what we’re trying to avoid is something uncomfortable, not dangerous or physically painful. So when it comes to procrastinating, we’re often trying to avoid a temporary unpleasant experience – something we can definitely survive.
The bottom line when it comes to procrastination is to be honest with yourself. Really challenge the stories you tell yourself about why tomorrow is the perfect day to start. And then simply make a start. Now.
Next time, we’ll look at how to effectively prioritise your workload – another key skill when it comes to being productive.