You’re booked for a presentation. The months and weeks pass as your deadline approaches. I’ll work on the presentation tomorrow, you tell yourself. Time doesn’t stand still, yet your progress has stalled. All too often, good presentations fall short of becoming stellar presentations because of a bad habit of procrastination.
Why do we procrastinate?
There are many reasons why we put off working on a particular project. For some, it may be a large presentation where the stakes of delivering well are huge, and there is anxiety around getting it perfect. Perhaps you’ve accepted a speaking engagement on a topic that no longer holds interest for you. Maybe you know in advance your audience will be difficult to persuade. Whatever your particular reason for procrastinating, here are some ways to set yourself up for success and avoid the pitfalls of procrastination:
1. Break up a large project into smaller chunks. Working on small parts of your project will not seem as overwhelming as trying to tackle the whole project. By consistently working on small pieces of your project, over time, you will find you will be able to complete your project by your deadline.
2. Before you start working on your project, set up your work space.This might mean freeing your desk from clutter, or gathering all of the supplies you will need so that you won’t be interrupted once you get started.
3. Aim for about 20 – 25 minutes of uninterrupted work. Turn off your e-mail and all of the noise-makers on your electronic devices. Set a timer for 20-25 minutes. I have personally been surprised at how much I can accomplish when I block out distractions using this method.
4. Reward yourself for taking action. A small reward and the satisfaction of completing a small piece of work can be a motivating factor in getting your whole project completed.
The key to breaking the procrastination habit is to take small steps early on in the process of working on your presentation.
“Procrastination makes easy thing hard, hard things harder.” – Mason Cooley