Considering it came out in 1993, “Groundhog Day” sure has become surprisingly relevant over these last few years. We all started referencing it early on in quarantine, when people were largely stuck at home and every day became a repeat of the day before.
Nearly two years later, I think a lot of people are still feeling like they’re stuck in a time loop—unable to move forward or plan beyond today in any meaningful way. Omicron has been a beast. With the delta variant a not-so-distant memory, everyone’s bracing for whatever comes next. A lot of us have pulled back on activities and are staying close to home right now. Things feel both unpredictable and monotonous at the same time. Planning around time management and productivity is naturally going to be extra difficult with all that going on.
Groundhog Day Replay
As if that wasn’t tough enough, the start of a new year has thrown a lot of us into a kind of double “Groundhog Day” scenario. The pandemic has made people feel stuck, like they’re spinning their wheels. And now the “January slide” is happening too, just like it seems to happen every year.
January is always a struggle, isn’t it? If you’re like a lot of people, you start out the month with great intentions and high hopes. You set your meaningful goals, vow to adopt healthy habits and tell yourself that it’s going to a be a great and productive year.
That’s week one. But maybe this sounds familiar: By week two or three, the resolutions that you set on New Year’s are already failing. You’re sliding back into old habits. Maybe you’re already discouraged about your ability to make progress on your meaningful goals when there are so many obstacles in front of you. (Oh, and the weather’s crummy a lot of the time. And the world is still a mess.)
Add it all up and what do you have? The perfect conditions for procrastination.
Breaking Through Procrastination
There’s probably no one place where the “January slide” is more evident than the gym. Regular gym goers watch it happen every year: During the first few weeks of the year, the parking lot is packed and every machine is taken. By the middle of the month, things are already starting to quiet down. And by February, the gym crowd is nearly back to December levels.
Maybe you’re one of the millions of people who has bought a new gym membership in January and quickly stopped using it. Or maybe you’ve struggled with the “January slide” around other kinds of goals. The journal you vowed to write in daily hasn’t been touched in a week. The instrument you swore to practice is getting dusty. The daily progress you planned to make on a new work goal hasn’t happened.
Procrastination is a big part of the reason so many people struggle with their goals this time of the year.
A lot of that procrastination is rooted in time management challenges. It’s easy to decide that you’re going to adopt new habits or build new behaviors… but when are you realistically going to fit them into your already busy schedule?
Time management is the sticking point. You already have so much on your plate. If you decide that you’re going to go the gym every day but you’re slammed at work today, you’re probably not going to abandon your responsibilities in the middle of the afternoon. You’re probably going to keep plugging away and promise yourself that you’ll go to the gym “later.” Work can’t wait, but the gym can, right? And if the same thing happens the next day, you’ll probably make the same promise.
Without dedicated time carved out of your schedule for those new habits or new goals, you’ll just keep rolling them over into “later” while you focus on all the stuff that’s already on your plate.
Three Time Management Tips to Defeat Procrastination
- Get really clear about what you’re putting off. Jot down a list of the things that you’ve been procrastinating about and that you want to finally tackle. You need to know exactly what things you need to be scheduling time for.
- Make a weekly plan that builds in time for the things you want to get done. Even when so much around you is unpredictable, you can build a schedule around the things that you know are going to happen. You might not know exactly what next Friday is going to bring, but you can decide now that you’re going to be working on X goal between the hours of Y and Z.
- Create a physical environment that pulls you into important tasks. Set yourself up for success. For example, clear your workspace of distractions that help you procrastinate and use alarms to remind you when to change tasks, if that’s helpful to you.
And take advantage of all the support you can access around time management and productivity. I’m always here to help.
The new year is still new, and there’s plenty of time to turn things around and get on track with your goals.
Join me on January Tuesday 1/18 at 1pm ET for Bust Through Procrastination & Overwhelm to Start Your New Year Strong. If you know what you need to get done but you just can’t seem to sit down and do it, this free masterclass is for you.