Despite our understanding that dawdling over duties has consequences, it’s normal to want to ignore what’s unappealing in favour of what’s enjoyable, or at least easier. More than one psychology study has suggested we’re hardwired to postpone difficult or unpleasant tasks. But since there’s a clear benefit to regularly meeting goals and deadlines as a business owner, it’s worth recognizing the procrastination traps that might get you – and how you can avoid them.
3 Everyday Procrastination Traps to Watch Out For
Let’s be clear. We may not always know why we put things off, but procrastination is an active process that involves making a choice about where you focus your time. The better you get at recognizing avoidance behaviours, the more likely you are to choose wisely.
Here are 3 common procrastination traps to watch out for as you move through your work day:
1. I’ll Focus Better After I Clear My Agenda
Some people believe that if they clear the easiest tasks off their plate first, they’ll be in a better state of mind to focus on chores they’d prefer to avoid. And in some cases, they’re right.
We’re not all geared to do our best work right out of the gate every morning. And waiting for the right moment to tackle a difficult task may even help us finish it sooner. The key lies in learning how to plan your day to get the best out of your brain – while recognizing procrastination for what it is.
For example, evidence suggests that from a physiological point of view we respond better to stressful events in the morning. So if you constantly put off difficult conversations or activities outside your comfort zone until the end of the day, try moving them up in your schedule.
2. I’m Busy All Day, So I Must Be Productive
Some entrepreneurs spend thousands of hours working on their business without making any tangible progress. If you habitually feel like you’re being productive when you’re actually doing little to move key projects forward, you’re not alone.
Research professor and renowned author Brené Brown regularly admits that as soon as she takes on a new project, she immediately procrastinates by spending an inordinate amount of time buying and organizing office supplies.
The best way to stop spinning your wheels is to prioritize tasks by the direct impact they’ll have on your profits or trackable business performance. Then make a point of scheduling at least one of those high value activities into your objectives each day.
3. I Believe in Prioritizing Communication
In today’s collaborative work environment, it’s easy to convince yourself that interacting with the people around you is more important than your to-do list. Some business owners feel compelled to respond immediately to every new email, phone call, or text – and to drop everything to attend to non-urgent requests from team members.
Unfortunately, distractions like these are intimately tied to procrastination and the loss of productivity that often goes with it.
There are plenty of suggestions online for dealing with workplace distractions – including unscheduled co-worker chats and superfluous meetings. But if you really enjoy interacting with others as part of your work day, consider this: being accountable to someone can be an extremely effective motivator.
Rather than just letting your communication habits distract you, try turning them around and using them to ward off procrastination traps. For example, asking someone you trust to regularly check in as you work on tasks you’ve been struggling to finish may be just the incentive you need to finally get the job done.
Want to learn more about what may be causing you to procrastinate? Explore the psychology behind procrastination here.