I recently met with a professional who was a bit “stuck” in her work. She felt disorganised; her desk was cluttered and she had a hundred things to do at work. Everything was last minute and the work just kept piling on. She was feeling stressed and despondent and overwhelmed by the enormity of the work in front of her. So we explored each aspect of her work and helped her identify where the gaps were and how to improve her productivity.
The main themes that were identified were procrastination and persistence, avoiding the hard jobs and not completing jobs. “I’ll do it later” was the phrase on the tip of the tongue. This is a very real issue for people and can creep in slowly but when you see the work piling up you need to check in with yourself and see where the resistance is. Work can be so busy with a variety of ‘other’ tasks to be done; it can be a bit like when you were younger at the dinner table, pushing that broccoli around the plate until the last minute!
Understanding why and what you can do
Everybody has reasons for not completing the task that needs to be done; fear of failure, not feeling confident with the challenge, not trained enough for the task. Once these are explored carefully, then it would be important to move from thinking to doing.
Brian Tracy, writer of “Eat that Frog” explains that your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. So he advocates eating the frog first thing in the morning- set yourself the goal of completing the most difficult task in the morning and complete it to the end.
Setting a plan for each day can help refocus the mind and ensure that all the important tasks get recognised and completed. Every job comes with the nice tasks and the not so easy tasks and it is important to complete all of them.
When I followed up with the professional, she reported that her thinking around work has changed, improving productivity and giving her a sense of pride and confidence in her work. Her motto has moved from “I’ll do that later” to “Finish the job”.
Do it now; make the list of jobs that need to be done today, rank the list in order of urgency or importance. Pick the one that is most pressing and important, it might be the one you least like to do but just go do it and finish the job. It will take effort at the beginning, but the sense of accomplishment will spur you on to eat the next frog!