Guest Author - Dianne Walker
To some, procrastination is an art. Avoiding what you fear the most, fear of failure or not knowing when or where to start a major project often manifests itself in procrastination. What can be done to avoid feeling overwhelmed and increase the chances of reducing the amount of time that you spend procrastinating and getting to work on the big project?
1. Choose a point to start. Often times, a project is handed to you as an "outcome". The manager is only concerned about the project results, not the journey that you take to get there. So how does this look to you? A large project with an end and no recognizable beginning in sight. Anxiety sets in, all concrete thoughts on finding step one escapes and procrastination sets in. Ask yourself, however, is there truly a right or wrong starting point? Does one beginning step have any other dire circumstances over another? If not, pick a point to begin the project and plan from there. If that point leads successfully to the goal, then move forward.
2. Build time for learning. If the project contains knowledge or skills that you have never encountered, build in time to take training either from a mentor or some other type of formalized training program. Release the self imposed pressure of perfection and knowledge that you think may be required from the start. This increased pressure ultimately leads to procrastination due to fear of failure. Chances are that your manager had enough confidence in your ability to handle the project.
3. Stop being overly critical of yourself. If you’re feeling the pressure that the project is not as close to completion as you would like, you may miss the major milestones and accomplishments that need to be celebrated. This critical self assessment and overwhelming anxiety prohibits you from making any transition from where you are - to where you want to be.
Procrastination is an extremely ineffective way to cope with issues and concerns from major projects within your career. It tends to stall all forward moving action and leaves the work stagnant and incomplete. Fear of failure and disappointment leading to this procrastination only increases stress and worry. Breaking through this mental block is not easy, however, it can be done.
Ask yourself a few important questions. What is the absolute worst thing that could happen? Acknowledge the fact that the most dreaded scenario could occur. Acknowledge it, make it part of a recovery plan then move on. Knowing that you have a “plan b” goes a long way in calming fears of failure.
Once you have acknowledge the worst, plan on celebrations for the milestones and other major accomplishments. Make sure that the milestones are within reasonable reach. Celebration leads to a “can-do” attitude and increases your chances of success.