Right, in 500 words, how to overcome procrastination.
Why do you procrastinate? Four reasons. 1. You don’t know what to do. 2. You know what to do but don’t know how. 3. You know what to do but fear doing it. 4. You know what to do but just don’t want to.
- You don’t know what to do. There is no embarrassment in not knowing what to do. That’s what training is for! More often than not, people around you will acknowledge that a lack of training and/or experience is something that they, themselves have, er, experienced. Most people are willing to help, provided you time it right!
- You know what, but not how. There are resources aplenty in work and on the internet. I have recently got into the habit of doing my research for ‘things I don’t know’ through YouTube. Video instruction abounds! But you have colleagues, supervisors and whole departments that you can use as a resource to find out what you need to do. You ask if your computer isn’t doing what you want it to do – ask how other things work, as well.
- Fear – false expectation appearing real. You don’t fear doing, you fear failing. First of all, if you don’t do, you WILL fail. As Gary Player said, “I miss 100% of the shots I don’t try.” You fear making a mistake? We all do, that’s a common way of learning. You fear taking the time? Most people discover that ‘doing’ is a lot quicker than ‘not doing’, by some margin. In my book ‘Police Time Management’ I promote ‘Do It Now!’ as a motto that overcomes delay and improves productivity, because I discovered that putting things off means they build up for when I am REALLY busy – and as you are always REALLY busy you’re creating a rod for your own back by procrastinating when you need not. 10 pages just on that idea alone.
- You just don’t want to do it? You work in a service-orientated emergency-focused environment. The truth is that what you don’t want to do will always need doing, unfortunately. You really must accept that, and then use solution 3 to get past the immovable obstacle that ‘not wanting to’ creates.
To be frank, the only time procrastination works is when what you are expected to do – really shouldn’t be done at all. I’ll be frank. Such things are rare in policing. Every department thinks its priorities trump everyone else’s. but you can justifiably delay some truly useless stuff until you have a genuine ‘free’ hour to do the rubbish all at once – the PNC justifications, the follow-up RTC forms, the additional, purely procedural statement for a court case that’s still months away, and so on. But you must be good at assessing what you can delay, and for that reason my book also contains a chapter on making such an assessment.
Buy my book.
There – 500 words exactly. Bet you procrastinate counting them.