Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world, but early in his career he struggled with a common problem: procrastination.
Speaking to billionaire investor Warren Buffett in 2005, the Microsoft co-founder revealed he had a “very bad habit” of leaving things to the last minute when he was studying at Harvard University.
“I liked to show people that I didn’t do any work, and that I didn’t go to classes and I didn’t care,” he said.
Then, right before the deadline or test, he would begin to prepare.
“People thought that was funny,” he said. “That was my positioning: the guy who did nothing until the last minute.”
Upon entering the workforce, however, Gates realised this habit wasn’t helping him and was forced to kick in.
“Nobody praised me because I would do things at the last minute,” he said.
I’m a procrastinator… what do I do?
Procrastination is one of the toughest habits to kick, as it has less to do with self-control than it does with boredom, insecurity, anxiety, self-doubt or frustration.
“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,” Dr Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa told the New York Times.
One way around procrastination is to simply procrastinate more effectively: that is, do other tasks that need doing, rather than surfing social media.
That could mean that while you’re putting off a task, you could clear your inbox, or go for a walk, which could even help you solve the problems preventing you from tackling that big job.
According to The 25-Minute Meeting author and productivity expert Donna McGeorge, splitting your to-do list into High Intensity and Low Intensity tasks can also help beat procrastination.
By doing this, you can motor through the day by getting through the High Intensity tasks first and Low Intensity tasks later in the day, as a reward.
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