We all know the feeling of being so overwhelmed by massive workloads that you do not know where to begin or end. This is especially true in today’s time of heavy external and internal pressure being applied to both companies and their workers to achieve and deliver. External pressure is applied to companies and their management by consumer demand, which in turn leads to internal pressure being applied by company management on their workers.
Internal pressure, however, does not only originate from a company’s management team, but also from self. As humans, we tend to place ourselves under an enormous amount of stress, even without a massive overload of work.
One of the main culprits adding to self-pressure is procrastination. Nearly all of us are guilty of procrastination. According to the American Psychological Association, between 80 and 95 percent of college students procrastinate on their schoolwork. (The Blue Banner)
According to Joseph Ferrari, a psychology professor at DePaul University, there are also chronic procrastinators who are different from people who only procrastinate occasionally. He said studies from around the world have shown that 20 to 25 percent of people are actually chronic procrastinators. (ABC News)
The late humorist Robert Benchley once wrote. “Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” Rebecca Greif, a psychologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan says: “People usually procrastinate or put off doing something like a complicated task, for instance, because it makes them feel uncomfortable or brings up negative or unwanted emotions.” Another reason people why procrastinate is because they have learned this behavior over time as a coping mechanism.
Jeff Janata, chief of psychology at U.H. Case Medical Center in Cleveland says people who procrastinate are operating on a short-term basis. “We act to relieve our stress in the short term but fail to recognize that in the long haul, we’re actually increasing levels of stress associated with the unpleasant task.”
According to psychologists, procrastination is a learned behavior which can be unlearned. Additionally, you can also apply the following guidelines to help you cope with that massive workload.
1. Collect a list of all your tasks.
Put together everything you could possibly consider getting done in a day.
2. Identify urgent vs. important.
See if you have any tasks which need prompt attention. This will be work which, if not completed by the end of the day or in the next several hours, will have serious negative consequences.
3. Assess value.
Take a look at your important work and identify the tasks that are of crucial value to your company. You want to recognize exactly which types of tasks have top priority over the others.
4. Order tasks by estimated effort.
If you have tasks that seem equal in priority, compare their values, and start on the one you think will take the most effort to complete.
5. Be flexible and adaptable.
Uncertainty and change are a given. Recognize that your priorities will change, and often at the most inconvenient time. Remember to stay focused on the tasks you are committed to completing.
6. Know when to cut.
You probably will not be able to get to everything on your list. After you have prioritized your tasks and looked at your estimates, cut the residual tasks from your list, and concentrate on the priorities that you know you need to and can complete for the day.