Are you a procrastinator? Learn eight tips to help stop procrastinating and get your work done on time
Stop Procrastination Now!
Do you pay your bills late? Are your library books constantly overdue? Do you start projects at the eleventh hour? Is Scarlet O’Hara’s classic “Tomorrow is another day” your personal philosophy? If you answered “yes” to these questions, chances are you’re a procrastinator – and that it’s adversely affecting your life.
Here are eight strategies for avoiding procrastination from Kerry Gleeson, author of The Personal Efficiency Program: How to Get Organized to Do More Work in Less Time. Don’t put it off – give it a read now!
- Break the habit.
Realize that procrastination itself is a habit: You’re so used to putting things off that you keep doing so without thinking about it. The best way to break a bad habit? Replace it with a good one: “Change your ‘Do it later’ attitude to ‘Do it now,’” Gleeson says. In other words, don’t begin a project unless you’re prepared to act on it immediately – if you start to go through your mail, for instance, don’t stop until you’ve finished the task.
- Do the worst first.
Mark Twain once said, “If you have to eat two frogs, eat the big one first and don’t think much about it.” Gleeson says, “Imagine the worst possible task you have to do and then think about how great it will feel to have it out of the way.” You’ll be in a better state of mind to complete the rest of your projects after finishing the one you really don’t want to do.
- Think realistically.
People often procrastinate out of the belief that the things they have to do are harder than they actually are; because they imagine the worst, they become intimidated and never even start. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to think about what the project really entails. Rarely is it as bad as it may seem at first.
- Don’t be a perfectionist.
Says Gleeson, “Many people who procrastinate are perfectionists – if they can’t do something perfectly, they might as well not do it at all.” Recognize that this is an excuse, not a fact; nobody’s flawless, and you can’t expect all of your projects to be, either. If perfectionism is truly a problem, tell yourself you’re going to do a bad job on your project; allowing yourself that mental freedom often removes the apprehension that impedes you from getting going.
- Take 10.
Jump-start a project by telling yourself you’ll give it just 10 minutes and no more. “No matter how busy you are, you can always find ten minutes to work on something,” insists Gleeson. Surprisingly, just a few minutes is often enough to get you into the flow of the project and working on it long after the time you allotted is up.
- Plan ahead.
“If you spend half your time on planning a project, you’ll get it done twice as fast,” observes Gleeson. Don’t just jump into a task without giving it careful thought first. Figure out what needs to be done, how to do it, and devise a step-by-step strategy.
- Break it down.
Learn to view tasks not as major endeavors but as a series of smaller steps. In order to make your projects more manageable, break them down into their smallest possible elements, then deal with those one at a time.
- Schedule, schedule, schedule.Set aside a specific time during which, you tell yourself, you absolutely must work on your task; chances are you’ll be more likely to see it through to completion.
- Get into a groove.
If you make something into a routine, you’ll be more likely to do it: “Make ‘Do it now’ a regular part of your life, like brushing your teeth,” urges Gleeson. When you make not procrastinating a habit, it becomes automatic – before you know it, you’ve gotten your tasks done without even worrying about them.Excuse me, I have to finish that project before I can go to lunch today. I hope your scheduling plans meet with continued success.