21 Ways of Getting Things Done
In this series we’ll take a look at the reasons people procrastinate and tips on overcoming the habit.
Strategy 9: Build on Your Strengths
If you’re like most people you’ve probably heard that we should focus on turning our weaknesses into strengths. Then we end up focusing on and doing things we’re not really good at instead of making our strengths stronger (and facing some discouragement along the way). Why not polish up what you’re good at doing? Why not capitalize on what you do well? That doesn’t mean we don’t ever address our shortcomings or try to improve the areas in which we are weak. It just means we need to use the qualities in which we excel to help us in the areas in which we struggle.
Are you the kind of person who likes starting with the easier tasks and moving onto the harder ones? Or do you prefer to begin with hard tasks and finish off with the easy ones? If you’re unsure, keep an informal log for a couple weeks. Make two columns; one labeled Hard Tasks and the other Easy Tasks. List the projects you need to get done under the corresponding columns. For now, the goal isn’t to cross everything off your list; the goal is to keep track of the things you accomplish and the things you tend to procrastinate doing.
If you usually to tackle the hard things first and leave the easy ones for later (and “later” invariably becomes never), then start your day strong by doing a hard task to get the ball rolling and then switch to some of the easier ones that normally get neglected.
If you tend to do all the easy stuff first and then feel too overwhelmed to get to the hard things that are left, start with a few easy things, tackle one or two of the harder ones, and finish with a couple easy tasks again.
Think of your day and projects you have to get done as a hill you’re going to climb. Plan the day by starting with a few of the things you’re good about getting done. Then work on one or two of the things you normally procrastinate doing. When you’ve completed that, switch back to the projects you’d rather be doing. The goal is to start and end strong. In this way you build on your strengths and let the momentum carry you through.
Another visual is to think of your day like a sandwich. Two slices of your favorite bread (mmmm…cinnamon raisin) is how you will start and end the day. In the middle you put the stuff you’re not so crazy about (eggplant and generic bologna, ugh). You’ll put bitter between sweet; the I’d-Rather-Nots between the I-Can-Do’s; the Rough Patches between the Smooth Sailing; and the things you procrastinate between the things you enjoy.
So let’s eat our sandwiches while climbing our hills, and it won’t be long until procrastination is a thing of the past!
Strategy 8: Make a To-Don’t List < > Strategy 10: (coming soon)