Procrastination--read this now!

  • Published
  • By Col. Mark Vijums
  • 934th Airlift Wing vice commander
"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." - William James

About this time of year many of us consider ways in which we can start anew. New Year's resolutions are made, goals are set and dreams are envisioned. I'm sure, just like me, some of those tasks are repeats. For instance, taking better care of myself and working out has been a repeat for me and it's due to procrastination. Here's the definition of procrastination straight from Wikipedia:

In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions or tasks with low-priority actions, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time. Psychologists often cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision. Schraw, Pinard, Wadkins, and Olafson have proposed three criteria for a behavior to be classified as procrastination: it must be counterproductive, needless, and delaying. Procrastination may result in stress, a sense of guilt and crisis, severe loss of personal productivity, as well as social disapproval for not meeting responsibilities or commitments.

Now the question is how do we battle procrastination? For those of you that attended the Enlisted Workshop, Colonel Wilt gave a great presentation on Priority Management. In his presentation, he used a neat tool called the "Time Matrix" that had two sides, one labeled Important and Not Important and the other side was labeled Urgent and Not Urgent. Grouping these together you get four blocks.

1. Necessity (Important and Urgent)
2. Productivity and Balance (Important and Not Urgent)
3. Deception (Urgent and Not Important)
4. Waste and Excess (Not Urgent and Not Important)

Personally, I find myself answering a pop-up email immediately (block 3) versus letting it sit all too often taking me away from the block 1 items I need to complete. This eventually leads to the loss of time to complete the high-priority items leading to procrastination. So, how do we battle this? Here are a few tips from a combination of sources:

1. Use the Time Matrix above to categorize your tasks and get rid of the waste
2. Eat an elephant slowly, do it bit by bit
3. Tackle the most important task first thing when you get in
4. When you view or handle something ; file, act or toss it, to avoid revisitation
5. Take time to plan your day or week and discipline yourself to abide by the plan

So this year you can guess what one of my resolutions is; avoid procrastination!
I wish you all a healthy and successful New Year in 2011!