Avoiding Procrastination Requires Mental Trickery

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Shh! We’re hiding. Be quiet everyone. That includes me. Shh! Who’s making that noise? Oh, it’s me again” – Julian (Madagascar)

I am a man with a lot going on both professional and personally in life like many people.  In addition to juggling a management position at my job which consumes 60+ hours per week, I am a devoted husband to my wife, father to my two boys and write poetry and blog on the side.  In addition I am helping my wife with our new J&S Travel business as well as help administrate her WordPress blogs while still finding time to guest post on other WordPress blogs, keep up with social appearances on Twitter and other social networks and manage to squeeze in about 2 hours of TV or movie time per night after telling my kids a bed time story.

snowman juggling

Image Credit: Salvatore Vuono

All in all my daily routine is virtually a breakneck pace that starts sharply at 6am and often ends at 11pm where I am like a wheel spinning at 40,000RPM all day long with no break in sight.  My biggest problem is that I have so much on my plate that I can be easily distracted or lose focus without prioritizing nearly everything in my life.  I organize even the most simple of things into tasks and I even have a whiteboard in my office where my wife writes down “chores” in dry erase marker that she needs me to do during the week or weekend.  I try to clear all my chores every week and she writes in new chores for the following week.  This system works for me because I would lose track of things and that would be very bad.

I have to have an alarm on my cell phone that goes off every 2:15pm just so I am reminded that my kid will be out of school soon on the off day my wife may not be able to pick him up.  I do this because I spend about 8-9 hours a day on conference calls and I multitask during whichever ones I can to try and complete multiple things at once for maximum efficiency.

I would be prone to procrastination for things that would have distant deadlines, but I prohibit myself from this because it would be a dangerous precedent if I allowed myself to push things out until it all piled up so that I could never catch up.  An example of this is if I have some things to do at work or home and I have a month or more before the deadline to get them accomplished.  Instead of waiting until the week prior or a day prior, I mentally set 2 deadlines in my mind.  One is three weeks before a requirement is due and I strive to meet this date, penalizing myself if I don’t make it as if I failed a real deadline.  I then have a backup due date which I will further penalize myself if I don’t meet and if I do come past this deadline then I will often re-prioritize other items to get what I needed to get done.

I actually mentally trick myself to go as far as to believe that my deadline is due much sooner than expected in order to make sure I don’t fall prone to putting it off.  This drive has kept me ahead of schedule and on top of everything but it comes at the cost of being extremely busy and requiring myself to log nearly everything as an outlook task.  Believe it when I have to take my kids to the doctor or my wife wants to schedule a lunch with me, I have to make sure I put it on my outlook calendar and block out the time or else I might forget or something might clobber it.

Worst case scenario is if I am under the gun and can’t meet a deadline, I will usually kick back with 3 or 4 cups of coffee (or some energy drinks) and pull a few nearly all nighters to try and get caught up again.  I am at my worst when it comes to overload if I come back from a week vacation and have 1,000+ emails to sort through, catch up on entire multi-day and multi-threaded conversations at work some requiring a detailed response and I often will dread going on vacation just because I can’t bear to think about the work load when I return.

High strung you say?  Nope, just have a lot going on at the moment and I am hoping I don’t fall behind on anything.

-Justin Germino

Updated: December 6, 2010 — 10:27 pm