Coming Clean Here
I am a procrastinator. Why? Well, let me just Google it, read several articles about the causes and symptoms, talk to colleagues about their own challenges, make myself a cup of tea, graze lightly for some edibles, and find more first-person procrastination pieces to mull over.
“Attention Week” in the New York Times
Maybe you’ve already read this series of recent articles. Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control). Stop Letting Modern Distractions Steal Your Attention. Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management. You get the drift. Did you know there’s a Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa?
It’s A Thing
One of the reasons I am hired to coach executives on their speeches is to short-circuit the procrastination boogeyman (although we don’t say this out loud). I force the issue. Because I am scheduled on their calendars to develop/rehearse a presentation, it will happen. And it’s always easier if someone else drives the process.
For The Rest of Us
If you don’t have a Personal Presentation Coach, here are three simple techniques I have found useful.
1. First Thoughts
When you first find out you will be giving a presentation, capture your first thoughts. Typically, this is the creative stage. The date is far enough away that there is no pressure (thus no procrastination). You have ideas. Wouldn’t it be great if…?
Don’t just think them, catch them. Literally in a physical folder or digitally. Odd facts, random quotes, notes-to-self, meanderings. Then when the deadline is looming and you have to get down to work, you open the folder and aha! You have something to start with. You will thank yourself.
2. Swiss Cheese Method
This time management technique is based on poking holes in a large task. No, you can’t face doing it, so do one thing. One easy thing. The key is not to beat yourself up for what you’re not doing, but congratulate yourself for the one thing and have some self-compassion.
3. Sh***y First Draft
Known to most writers, this is real. The concept is to get something, anything, down on paper or onto your screen. Procrastination feeds on the empty page. Circumvent it by getting a crummy first draft written.
You know that editing is always easier than the initial writing. You might consider talking it through out loud and taping yourself as a way to jumpstart that first draft.
Drop the Perfectionism
Done is better than perfect. The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (born in 601 BC!) wrote: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”
In other words, procrastination has been a problem for a very, very long time. You’re not going to beat it. And you don’t need to solve it. You just need to start.
Let me know how it goes. We’re all in this together!
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