April 15 is just 20 days away. Have you filed your taxes yet?
Maybe you were eager to find out how big that tax refund will be (or learn just how much you owe Uncle Sam) and filed your taxes last month. Good work! But for most Americans, taxes are messy, dredging up financial realities we try to ignore but once a year. We naturally procrastinate, filing them at the very last minute.
If we’re honest, we procrastinate a lot, about all kinds of things… especially at work.
While procrastination can feel like a major personal shortcoming, procrastinators aren’t alone: we’re psychologically hardwired to put off difficult tasks and decisions. It’s another symptom of “fight or flight” - we’ll do what it takes to avoid an emotionally draining or mentally complex situation, making excuses along the way.
Of course, procrastination can be lethal at work. Apply these tips to help you have the greatest impact during your workday - or even to finally finish your taxes!
The first step to tackling procrastination is to accept your internal resistance to completing the task. Often, the overwhelm of everything on our to-do list paralyzes us. Instead, ask yourself what is the one item you must accomplish today. Just get yourself to do that. And oftentimes crossing just one thing off your list can give you the momentum you need to keep going.
Block Out Your Time
One procrastination tactic is to let every beeping notification, every new email or interruption by a coworker distract you from what you need to accomplish. Try blocking out your time each day, starting with an hour to accomplish your most mentally challenging task. Put it on your calendar, let your colleagues know. Then schedule an hour after lunch for catching up on your inbox and consolidate meetings in the afternoon. By scheduling your time in blocks, you can prevent distraction and make sure you accomplish your top priorities.
Schedule Breaks and Rest
Mental exhaustion is real, and the more tired your brain, the easier it will be to procrastinate. As you’re blocking out you schedule, make sure you include regular breaks at least half an hour for lunch (away from your desk!). Take a walk to get the creative juices flowing. Then, at the end of the day, turn off your devices and truly rest. You will feel more energized and ready to tackle your priorities tomorrow.
Mental exhaustion can easily grow into full-fledged burnout, especially in our always-on, 50-plus-hour-workweek culture. Assess how you currently spend your time: how many hours per day are you working? And how many of those hours are truly focused, efficient and most importantly: effective? Think of how many hours you could take back from your workday if you stopped procrastinating. By rethinking your workday, you can accomplish more in less time and prevent not just procrastination but long-term burnout. Not sure where to start? We can help!
It is possible to stop procrastinating, accomplish more than ever before and truly enjoy your workday. By implementing these four steps, you can stop procrastinating by Tax Day and maybe even give yourself a “refund” of a few extra hours in your day!