Deciding to begin hunting for a job can be an exciting and emotionally charged time in your life. Depending on the circumstances, you might feel just as intimidated as you do excited. As an aspiring Product Manager, nailing interviews will come only with experience. And experience requires putting yourself out there and applying for every opportunity you can.
But as with any big, life-changing decisions you may encounter, our emotions and mental state can become a factor. Before you know it, the procrastination monster can start to rear its ugly head. We start out with the best of intentions to apply to as many jobs as possible but end up not being as productive as we could be. In the scramble to get out applications, the pressure can be intense and overwhelming. But what can we do when we realize that procrastination is impacting our potential future career?
Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something, despite knowing that it may have consequences. Often, those who struggle with chronic procrastination may be thought of as lazy, but this is often not accurate. Where laziness presents as a trait of passive apathy and unwillingness to act, chronic procrastination is a habit that involves active avoidance of a particular action.
On the contrary to someone who is lazy, chronic procrastinators may care deeply about the task at hand. Still, without help, they habitually remain stuck in a destructive cycle of stress and shame.
When you find yourself stuck in this rut on the job hunt, it can seem impossible to overcome. Below, we have put together a list of some top ways to lick procrastination and get out of the cycle once and for all.
How to Overcome Procrastination: 6 Tricks to Try
6. Ask Why
Sometimes the first step in how to overcome procrastination is understanding why we are doing it. If you find yourself procrastinating on your path to product management and you don’t know why, try putting into words what emotions you are feeling, and why you feel that way.
When we are on the market for a new job, we are making ourselves very vulnerable. Ask yourself: are you afraid of something? Are you overwhelmed? There are many reasons why we might procrastinate taking action to further our professional goals. Naming the root of the problem can be the first step to understanding what further action you can take or what perspectives need re-evaluation.
5. Kill it with Kindness
One of the most common motivators behind procrastination is avoidance. If there is a negative association with the task at hand, we can fall into procrastination as a defence mechanism. For example, when job hunting or trying to make a change in your career, applying for jobs and potentially facing rejection repeatedly can be daunting. Switching to a “safer” task can be our way of subconsciously keeping ourselves idling, avoiding rejection and fear.
Of course, eventually, procrastination will lead to discomfort as well. This can further trigger avoidance, thus the cycle begins. Chronic procrastination is a shame spiral — and studies show that one of the most effective ways to break out is to ditch the shame and try a little self-forgiveness.
Think of self-forgiveness as “killing it with kindness” when it comes to learning how to overcome procrastination. It simply means that when you find yourself in a situation where you have procrastinated, try some radical self-compassion and forgive yourself for it. By stopping the cycle of negative self-talk and avoidance, self-forgiveness can be the key to allowing you to move on with the task at hand.
4. Two Minute Rule
Another reason why we may procrastinate is simply that it’s habitual. When you make a habit of leaving your work until the last possible moment, you are conditioning yourself to work in a way that is dysfunctional and stressful. Just like all routines we have grown accustomed to, they don’t change overnight.
The two-minute rule is an effective way to incrementally start replacing bad habits with better ones, without setting yourself up to fail. To implement the two-minute rule, simply take the task you want to make habitual and reduce it into something that you can complete in two minutes or less.
For example, if your aim is to apply to 60 jobs by the end of the day, start with opening your computer and finding five posted jobs. By breaking the tasks down into smaller, more easily completed ones, you can start to build new habits. These will replace the gratification and pressure of just barely squeaking in under the deadline every time.
3. Incorporate a Reward
Research shows that the human brain contains a reward system that impacts many parts of our brain’s function — from emotional regulation to reasoning and decision making. We also know that according to some studies, it is not the reward itself but the anticipation of a reward that has the most influence over us.
If you are in a funk and struggling to find the right time or frame of mind, it’s important to understand that there might never be a “right time”. When in doubt, create your own positive environment!
Consider creating your own reward system to get things moving. The reward you receive once your task is completed is up to you. For example, make plans with a friend after you have completed a day of applying and interviewing. Or, plan to go work on your resume in a coffee shop and get yourself your favorite latte while you work. Whatever you choose, something to look forward to can often help you get motivated to tackle your procrastination.
2. Have a Power Hour
Multitasking has a time and a place where it is useful. Tackling how to overcome procrastination is not one of them.
Think of your ability to focus as a muscle that needs to be strengthened and rested properly. This can help you start to gain a new perspective on procrastination and productivity.
Work your focus muscle by eliminating distractions for a predetermined interval. Silence notifications. Put your phone in another room if you must! Tools like the Pomodoro Timer can help divide up your work into smaller, more manageable blocks and remind you to take breaks to keep you optimized and in the zone.
1. Get Accountable
One of the best ways to fight procrastination is good, old-fashioned peer pressure! Do you have a friend or mentor with goals of their own they are trying to accomplish? Taking on an accountability buddy can be a great way to keep yourself on track and motivated.
Discuss your goals and your plan to land your next job, and schedule check-ins at non-disruptive times to make sure you are both on the right track.
How to Overcome Procrastination: Breaking the Habit
Procrastination can be a challenging habit to break. But once you have realized what you are doing and why you’re doing it you can start to make changes. Now that you have some tools in your arsenal, it is time to start considering how you can apply them to your career goals!
Getting a handle on procrastination is a critical step towards success for any aspiring Product Manager. If you need a place to start, follow the 2-minute rule and schedule a free consultation with one of our career counsellors to kickstart your product management job hunt and generate more interviews today!