I’ve put off writing this for several weeks now and I’m finally getting around to posting it today. So here it goes. . .
All joking aside, what exactly is procrastination and more importantly, before we can begin to conquer it, we must understand why we procrastinate in the first place.
Procrastination is simply to put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness. To put off till another day or time, to defer or delay an action. Often times, it causes us to miss an opportunity that is in our best interest.
So why do we procrastinate, when we know it’s in our best interest not to?
The answer to this question is complex; however I will note several reasons.
Fear – Fear of doing the task or project at hand. When one is moved outside their comfort zone, it often times freezes them to immobility. When fear causes us to put something off, we will often justify it by doing other tasks such as making return phone calls, answering email, or any other mundane task that will keep us from doing what needs and should be done.
Perfectionism – Sometimes our standards are so high, the thought of falling short is reason enough to delay a project or task. If the task doesn’t get done, it won’t be imperfect!
Crisis Motivated – How many times have you said to yourself, “I perform better in the heat of the moment or in a crisis?” For me, I can trace this back to writing a book report in grade school, waiting till the last minute, writing all night and getting an A on the project!
Paralysis through Analysis - The “whole” of the project is so overwhelming that taking the first step is like building a pyramid with a teaspoon.
Anger - If one resents doing the task or project in the first place, it will likely not get done or if it is completed, gets done with inferior results.
Pleasure Seeker - All pleasure and no pain is the mantra of this person. Only tasks that result in immediate gratification prompt this person to put off lesser or more complex tasks. Usually the burden then falls on others within their team or it doesn’t get done at all.
Now, here are some tips to overcome procrastination.
Reward Yourself – The bigger the project or task, the greater the reward. This could be anything from a double tall latte to a new Porsche. (Needless to say, the Porsche is a pretty big project or task!)
Procrastination Partners – Find someone else who also procrastinates. Because their reasons for putting things off is often times different than yours, teaming up could be the little extra push you both need.
Breaking into Pieces – This is often the “best” way to begin a large task or project. Simply break it into smaller more manageable pieces. Before you know it, you’ve chipped away at the mountain in front of you.
Visualize the End – If you focus on a successful outcome, it will make beginning the project that much easier. How will you feel? What accolades will you receive? How will others respond to the successful conclusion? How good will you feel when it’s done? Go ahead, close your eyes and make it real. . .
Public Declaration – With all eyes watching, you better perform! Once, I declared to all of my friends and family that I “would” complete a 26 mile marathon. So in order to be successful, I HAD to spend the months necessary to condition myself. (Yes, I did it)
Set a Start and Completion Date – Most of us are familiar with Parkinson's Law, which states that "work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Self Talk – Replace I got to...," "I should...," or "I have to..." with “I choose to” “I want to” and “I will”
Trim the F.A.T. – Eliminate time wasters with these tree choices. File, Act or Toss. Putting it off is not an option.
Understand the 80 / 20 Rule - The Pareto principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, 20% of your actions account for 80% of your positive results.
Set an Appointment with Yourself – Set a daily or weekly appointment with yourself to plan important activates and tasks so you insure their completion.
Take 10 – Take 10 minutes at the end of each day to review your schedule for the next day. Gather any items you may need, so that you will be prepared in advance.
Sweat it Out for Fifteen Minutes – If you find yourself continually putting something off, commit to “jumping in” for at least 15 minutes. More often than not, the hardest part of any task or project is the very beginning. So use this technique to get started, with the option of stopping at 15 minutes if you’re not motivated to continue.
Lower the Bar – I’m not suggesting you do inferior work; however I do suggest you can go back later to perfect that which you have created or completed. Many professional writers do their first draft in a flurry, thus getting the ball rolling. Then they go back later, doing many re-writes to perfect their work. If they tried to do it perfect the first time out, they would likely never get started.
© 2009 SuccessCo.com
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What do others have to say about procrastination? Here are some quotes.
You may delay, but time will not.
Procrastination is the bad habit of putting of until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday.
Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.
I love deadlines. Especially the whooshing sound they make as they pass by.