Chris is a productivity expert and the founder of A Year of productivity (and also the guy who came up with the name for this site). After he graduated from university he turned down two job offers and explored productivity for one year with all sorts of crazy experiments including meditating for 35 hours in a week or working 90-hour week all while tracking his level of productivity.
Note: This interview was highly edited and I only kept the parts I thought would be interesting you.
Nicolas: Some of my clients have issues with staying productive during their job search. They start off very optimistic and assume they’ll be able to network and prepare for interviews for three hours every day. Soon enough they are lagging behind and only doing the bare minimum. This problem is even worse for people who already have a job and are looking for a better one, which is…well 90% of my clients!
Chris: There are certain characteristics to a task that makes you more likely to procrastinate on it. This happens when the task is boring, frustrating and unstructured. I’m no job search expert but sounds like looking for a new job is all that no?
Nicolas: Oh yes. Actually I loved interview preparation even as a job candidate but everyone else thinks it’s boring as hell. For the frustration and the lack of structure I completely agree with you, sometimes you get turned down during the final round four times in a row and you have no idea why!
Chris: One solution to counter this tendency to procrastinate is to make a list of all the reasons why you are procrastinating. Maybe you feel overwhelmed and can’t get started or maybe you don’t know what to write in your emails. Whatever the reasons are, write them down. And then make another list with all the consequences of procrastination.
Nicolas: So for instance if I got fired and I’m looking for a new job the consequences of procrastinating are basically starvation so that’s easy. But if I already have a job in investment banking and want to transition to a hedge fund or private equity then I should list all the benefits of the new job? Maybe less hours or more interesting work?
Chris: Exactly. Whatever your motivation to change jobs is, write it down. This will help you give meaning to the task so you don’t view it as “just another item” on your to do-list. I got this tip from a world expert on procrastination and I can tell you it’s dynamite.
Nicolas: Good stuff. So let’s talk about keeping the motivation fresh. Sometimes my client tells me, “I have three days off so I’ll work from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on my job search and I should be able to contact 500 people in three days”. Then three days later they confess that they actually only contacted 20 people and spent most of the time on YouTube or on their iPad. What do you recommend they do instead?
Chris: This one is a classic. Thinking that after three weeks of postponing the task you’ll “catch-up” in 72 hours is just unrealistic. Instead make it a challenge. Tell your clients they are only allowed to work on their job search for 90 minutes a day during the weekend. That will give them focus and light a fire under them and they’ll get more done in 90 minutes then they would have done in 10 hours. As an added benefit they’ll also enjoy their time off a lot more.
– To avoid procrastination make a list of all the reasons why you need to get the task done
– Instead of scheduling a 10-hour slot to work on your job search on the weekend, schedule 90 minutes and DON’T go over
– Schedule 25 minutes during the weekdays
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June 18, 2015