We all have more to do and yet ironically we seem to be spinning our wheels now more than ever. Have you noticed that people are procrastinating more and more despite ever-increasing workloads?
When we are overloaded, we actually tend to procrastinate more. This is called the Paradox of Choice: with too many decisions to make, we tend to do nothing, or at the very least, we do the easiest thing. The Easiest Thing is rarely the best decision. We all know it will just put us under pressure down the track, when that deadline is finally looming. But we keep doing those easy things anyway.
That is, until there’s some urgency.
Urgency forces us to switch into the performance zone. It makes us switch out of auto-pilot mode and switch on the part of the brain that controls our behaviours. It also gives us a little shot of adrenalin, which narrows our focus.
But usually people wait for something or someone else to make this happen:
Someone else gives us a deadline
Or I am all of a sudden so far behind my budget or project timeline that I need to switch on.
This is a hallmark of being overwhelmed in the 21st Century. I will do easy things until someone else forces me to do something more productive. We wait to that external impetus to really get us moving.
The minute we create our own urgency, we start being more productive. We take control of our own performances and we are not held to the whims of deadlines and controlling managers.
Here’s a tip:
Build Blocks Of Focus into your day
Plan 30min blocks where all you do is work on the things that are most important. No email, no distractions, no daydreaming about the things that aren’t getting done. Be deliberate and set specific tasks to complete during this time. And if you can control your environment by closing your door or finding a meeting room to work in – even better.
I know 30 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but it is sometimes all we need to get us going. That 30 minutes quickly turns into an hour, but the original 30min block is long enough to get us started and short enough to create some urgency.
Now this takes some practice, so don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time. We can actually train ourselves to work in these blocks of focus. Again, 30min may not seem like much, but you’ll find it amazing how much you get done in this small space of time, with better focus.
** Tony Wilson is a Workplace Performance Expert focussed on helping leaders build the environment for high performance. His insights into performance science and it’s application in the workplace will make you re-think the way that you approach leadership, culture change, high performance and productivity. Tony has an MBA and a BSc majoring in physiology and combines the two for a different perspective. He is also the author of Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See and delivers workshops and keynote presentations around the globe.