20101005

Procrastinating? Find the Next Step Up


Stairs to Macchu Pichu,
courtesy of Shanidar
I just realised why I procrastinate in some tasks. And it may also be why you do, read on! It is not because they are boring, hard or repetitive. They may be. Hard tasks are a measure of your strength, boring and repetitive tasks, of your stamina. No, the problem is another.

Some projects are just tombstones. There are certain huge projects, with hardness and boredom along the way that when they are done, they are dead. You can't look at them and say from there I'll do that. They just finish and die.

These kind of projects are the hardest to finish because they bring a sense of end to our lives, like a certain death to our productivity schemes. The fear of the unknown – what will I do after I finish? – adds a stressing component to the uneasiness of the death sentence.

I don't know about you, but the moments when I'm feeling more accomplishee are when I am working in improving over one road with no end. Playing the guitar, training in karate, playing go all are paths without end. You can only keep getting better, and can set milestones – play song X by Christmas, get my brown belt in March – but you won't feel all ended. Still a lot of fun ahead.

Change your mental frame when approaching what seems like a sharp-ended project. The following three are the most common situations where you can change your point of view for a project.
  • Will you learn some new technique with this project? You can then apply it later, and the hetter you perform in this project the more confidence in your future abilities ou will be.
  • Will you show the results to someone? This may end up in new related opportunities, new relations, new projects.
  • Will it look good in your resumé? If it does, it may land you a better job... where you are required to do it again.
Everything is interconnected, if your project does not follow the previous cases, I am sure you can find some situation in which here is a next step related to it. If you can't, re-assess it. Are you sure you have to do it?

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Written by Ruben Berenguel