Articles From the Team
Is procrastination stalling your legal career?
We’ve all been there: a never-ending to-do list with more tasks added than completed - you don’t know where to start. So, in order to gain some sort of control you focus on the easiest and smallest tasks first; the ‘low hanging fruit’ – feeling satisfaction from having lots scribbled out or ticked (depending on the type of person you are – I like to go for a heavy, satisfying scribble), and that BIG thing, that bit of work you really need to do continues to be put off, moved on to the next day’s list and before you know it, you’ve written the same point over and over again!
Why do we do it to ourselves?
We all procrastinate from time to time, whether it’s putting off a meeting we expect isn’t going to go well, a piece of work we think will be hard or don’t know how to approach; on the odd occasion, it isn’t the end of the world. However, it’s a habit: you’re setting a blueprint and if it’s not addressed it can hinder you in your career progression, as well as other areas of your life!
Consequences of procrastination
- Stress - worrying about tasks left incomplete and the growing list, which has been found to lead to chronic fatigue
- Anxiety - becoming anxious about the tasks and the consequence of leaving them incomplete
- Missed opportunities, missed deadlines or under-performance as a result of reduced productivity
- Reduced job satisfaction – feelings of anxiety and stress not only affect your health, they will also affect your sense of wellbeing and achievement
Benefits of ridding your life of procrastination
- You’ll get more done… obvs!
- You’ll feel more relaxed and lose the feeling of guilt
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- Job satisfaction and a sense of well-being. You will feel more satisfied, happy and motivated once you start to see the results of your hard work!
So, what can we do to break the habit?
- Have a set plan! I write down three things each night that HAVE to be done the next day, and these are non-negotiable. Just writing things down makes it more concrete.
- Start with the hardest thing first. Willpower is a muscle. Once you start, you’ll build momentum which will propel you forward.
- Be specific. Don't say, "I'll start it tomorrow." Say, "I'll start it as soon as I get my morning coffee, before I look at my emails."
- Pre-empt that which tempts. Remove all temptations, including mobile phones and email alerts if need be.
- Visualise having completed the task and the associated emotions that go with it. Most probably satisfaction, relief and pride.
- Be kind to yourself. Praise yourself for having started and reward yourself when you’ve completed it, even if it’s just a cup of coffee.
At the end of the day, you need to, in the words of Nike, JUST DO IT… just getting started, even in the smallest way, creates progress. The sense of progress will fuel feelings of well-being and it’s plain-sailing from there.
Working on your self discipline and ridding procrastination at work can only benefit you and all areas of your life.
Start small, take little steps in the right direction and watch that to do list shrink away!