I was going to call this article “The cure for procrastination”, but I’m not exactly sure that it’s procrastination I’m addressing.
I’m not talking about things I’m avoiding doing, per say. I’m talking about the things I’m just forgetting to do. You know the ones.
The email that needs a response at some point but not right now and so you leave it marked as read in your inbox to answer when you’re finished with all the crucial projects of the day. The one that you find, marked read in your inbox, three months later.
The box of clothes sitting by your bedroom door that you’re going to go through and take to the dry cleaner or the tailor or the local thrift shop after work someday, or maybe this weekend. The one that you’ve been tripping over every morning for so long that your husband thinks it’s part of your decorating style.
The mail you’re going to sort, the desk you’re going to clean, the friend you’re going to call back, the dress you’re going to return and the eye doctor appointment you’re going to make.
These aren’t things that I’m putting off because they don’t sound like fun or because they seem particularly daunting, which are the most common reasons that I procrastinate. Their just low priority tasks that I set aside for later and then blow off. The problem is, they aren’t no priority tasks and I often find myself regretting not taking a few moments to get them done. I want to get them done - just, you know, later.
And later never comes.
My new goal is to assign deadlines for these low priority tasks as soon as possible, immediately if I can.
It goes like this:
Step 1: I get an email from a friend that needs a response, but not an immediate one. It will require a little more time than I have to give right now.
Step 2: I respond immediately with either a)I’ll have this to you by (insert date here) or b) when do you need this?
Step 3: I add “respond to Friend about Thing on Deadline” to my dated task list.
Step 4: When I find myself with a few spare minutes, I check my task list and go “Oh! That’s right!”
I actually respond to Friend about Thing, and then check it off my list.
So far, this has worked out well all three times I’ve done it. I’m optimistic!
Now if you’ll excuse me, it appears I need to “return phone call to Friend”.
Photo by Keith Williamson