Overcoming Procrastination


“Never Leave ’Till Tomorrow That Which You Can Do Today”

~ Benjamin Franklin

Are you guilty of procrastination? Most of us procrastinate to a certain extent but some of us procrastinate so badly that it prevents us from achieving our goals and disrupts our whole life. Procrastination can cause us to miss opportunities and increase feelings of stress, overwhelm and guilt.

In order to beat procrastination we must recognise why we do it and take action to ensure that we achieve our goals.

What is Procrastination?

 BrainyQuote.com defines procrastination as “The act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off to a future time; delay; dilatoriness.”

Conquering Procrastination:

 Step 1: Acknowledge That You’re Procrastinating

 How can you tell if you’re a procrastinator? Here are some typical signs:

  • Spending lots of time on unimportant jobs
  • Reading e-mails many times without taking action
  • Leaving tasks on your to-do list for long periods of time
  • Starting work and then instantly going to make a cup of tea
  • Putting something off until you feel “inspired” or in the right frame of mind

Step 2: Identify Why You’re Procrastinating

 We procrastinate for different reasons.  Sometimes it’s because we feel overwhelmed by a big task or having too much to do or it might be that we feel          lethargic or demotivated.  We might be disorganized or we may put off a particular task because we think it will be tedious or not enjoyable.

Step 3: Take Action

 Once you’ve identified the reason for delaying, you can then take remedial steps.

Tedious Tasks

The most efficient way of dealing with tedious tasks is to get them done as soon as possible, so that you can focus on more enjoyable work.  Set a goal to do one unpleasant task first thing everyday so that you can move onto the more pleasant jobs for the rest of the day. Often once we get started on a job we find that it is much more pleasant and easier than expected. Think about the unpleasant consequences of not getting it done.

Disorganisation

Get organised by having to-do lists and daily plans. Prioritise tasks according to the deadline date and how important it is.  Once you’ve identified when a job is due, work out how long it will take to complete and schedule accordingly.  Categorise tasks according to musts, shoulds and coulds and ensure that the musts get done first.  Set time-managed goals.  Give yourself a deadline and stick to it. Reward yourself when the job is done.

Stress

It’s difficult to be efficient when you feel stressed, harassed or nervous. It’s important to make time for relaxing and enjoying yourself a priority. Work and play should be both be given adequate time in your schedule. Work less hours but ensure that the hours you do put in are dedicated to completing tasks without distraction. You will be more effective when you take plenty of time for relaxation and pleasure.

It’s also beneficial to ensure that you have a relaxed working environment. You can improve your working environment by adding scented candles and plants. Personalise your workspace by adding personal photos and choosing your own special mug for your coffee.

Feeling Overwhelmed

There are two main reasons for overwhelm. One is feeling that you have too much to do and the other is feeling that you are facing a mammoth task and you don’t even know where to begin so you keep putting it off.

If the reason for your overwhelm is having too much to do, review your to do list and cut out anything that isn’t really essential. It’s also important to recognise tasks that can be delegated and ask for assistance. Evaluate your to-do list and decide whether the deadlines are reasonable. Renegotiate deadlines where necessary.

When you are overwhelmed by an enormous task break it into bite-sized chunks. Set a goal to work on the task for 30 minutes each day. 30 minutes may not seem like a lot but 30 minutes is better than the zero minutes you will achieve from procrastinating.

Laziness

Often laziness is caused by feeling too tired or lethargic. When you feel like this even small tasks seem to require too much effort. The most effective solution is diet and exercise. Exercise increases your energy levels and improves concentration. An increase in raw fruits and vegetables will also give you a boost. Aim to have raw fruit and vegetables with every meal and cut down on sugar, white flour and caffeine.

 Perfectionism

Perfectionism is another cause of procrastination. Feeling the need to do something perfectly can out you under a lot of pressure. You will subconsciously link the task to pressure and therefore avoid it. The way to deal with perfectionism is to understand and accept that we’re human. Think about all the products or services you have purchased that have been far from perfect.

It’s better to do something imperfectly today, than intend to do it perfectly and not do it at all.

 Once you have overcome procrastination, you will reap the rewards. You will feel in control and be rid of the stress that comes from having incomplete tasks hanging over you. Beating procrastination will enable you to have a calm mind, and a feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

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