Management Tips

Remembering to Remember: The Fine Art of Following Through

by Carol Williams

Have you ever had a task that’s so big or so scary that you just haven’t quite known where to start?  You’re so in awe of the task itself that getting down to it and getting it done requires as much discipline as the task itself.  Sound familiar?

Sometimes, the thought of this mammoth or difficult task just plays right into our tendency to procrastinate, or to spend a protracted period in the planning stage, rather than the execution.

How lack of Follow Through is hurting your reputation

While this is all very human, it could be damaging your reputation. Lack of follow through is not just about wasting time, it can also be about waking up one day to the realization that time and opportunities have passed you by. Get yourself a reputation as “the one who never makes good on his/her word” and people will believe this before they ever give you a chance to prove otherwise.

What’s behind the scenes, and how this effects your productivity

Enter the vicious circle of procrastination and lack of self-esteem.  We often procrastinate because we lack of self-confidence, and our inconsistency in following through not only reinforces this but it hurts that self esteem even more. Our question, “What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I just do it?” leads to self-doubt and may affect us to such an extent that we refuse opportunities for fear that we won’t be able to complete them, so why bother trying? The more we hear negative talk, the more we believe it. The key to stopping this negative belief system in its tracks is to catch that inner critic.  Listen to your thoughts and self-talk.  Learn to notice when these negative thought patterns occur and when you say something to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone else. Now, try replacing the bad with some good; If your negativity is well-entrenched, this might take some repetition for the positive to “stick”, but, as the saying goes, “practice makes comfortable”.

Easy Tips to start looking like the Superstar you truly are

So, how can you fight a lack of follow-through? The first tip I have is to use the power of visualization. Picture the benefits of following through – How will others react when you present the completed project or task? Then consider the effects that procrastination will have on the situation; your reputation will suffer, you’ll have to make excuses etc. When confronting that task, picture yourself successfully completing every stage of the process, from a short but effective planning session, through to effective execution.  Notice how you feel at each stage.

Another great tip is to open up to friends and family.  Allow them to know that you’re struggling.  This can work in a few ways.  You might feel embarrassed to admit that you doubt your ability to complete a task.  Vulnerability could be the motivation you need to spur into action. Alternatively, you may feel able to laugh with friends over the situation. This might help gain some perspective, allowing you to minimize the scary aspects of the task.  Others may also have a different view and be able to suggest ways to get the job done.

The third tip is to know that “done is better than perfect”.  So often we have such high expectations of ourselves that we would never be able to reach, so we just don’t try.  Instead, concentrate on small steps to enable completion of the task in hand rather than worrying because it’s just not perfect.

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