Procrastination—Everyone Talks About It, but Nobody Does Anything

Imagine for a moment the space, this article contains is blank, a fully blank screen.

Imagine the time and energy it might have taken someone who procrastinates to:

  1. think about doing the article,
  2. put it on a list of “to dos,”
  3. talk about doing it,
  4. make a promise to herself she will start it tomorrow,
  5. promise herself she will definitely start it tomorrow,
  6. promise herself again…well, you get the point.

As the deadline for the article draws near (it’s midnight the night before the article is due), imagine the stress the writer must feel as she brews a pot of coffee and sets herself up for a couple of hours to research the topic, organise the information, create an outline, come up with a dynamite opening line, write the article, rewrite the article, rewrite it again, print it out and rewrite it one more time. And, of course, the whole time she’s beating herself up for waiting so long to start and telling herself she’s no good at this writing anyway, and the article won’t hit the mark for her audience.

This is procrastination in its fullness, its a hideous weedy flower. Delay. Broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

Worry.        Fear.       Stress.

Overworked and probably not as good an end product as the writer would have produced if she’d tackled the job in a timely, reasonable, professional manner.

Procrastination isn’t good for anyone, anytime. So why do so many do it? Not just around such matters as filing income tax and completing holiday shopping, but with everyday tasks such as decluttering the desk or straightening up the office or starting a much-needed marketing & growth plan.

The more difficult, inconvenient or scary the task is perceived to be, the more procrastinators procrastinate. They come up with semi-convincing self-talk that makes the delay appear reasonable, but in the end, it’s a self-defeating behaviour that causes all sorts of problems, not the least of which is stress.

Following are a few remedies to overcome procrastination:

  1. Set goals.
    Decide what you want and what needs to happen to get it. Be specific. Create a realistic timetable & rewards.
  2. Commit.
    Make a contract with yourself. Tell a friend or co-worker or family member your plan. Ask for help when you need it.
  3. Set priorities.
    Make a list of things that need to be done in order of their importance.  See video (The Pickle Jar)
  4. Get organised.
    Have the right tools and equipment to do the job. Make lists. Keep a schedule, map the schedule out in a diary or visual way.
  5. Think small.
    Don’t let the whole of the project overwhelm you. Stay in the present and do what you are doing. Incremental steps are Key!
  6. Break tasks into parts.
    The “Swiss cheese” approach to getting any major project completed is to break it apart and work on one piece at a time. Reward yourself when you complete one step.
  7. Use positive self-talk.
    Become aware of your chatter. Use daily rituals. See Success Rituals Video blog
  8. Replace excuses with rational, realistic thinking.
  9. Realise there is no such thing as perfection.
    Begin the thing knowing it can never be done perfectly. You’ll do your best. You always do.
  10. Reward yourself.
    Often and generously for accomplishing the smallest of tasks. Celebrate & share it with others. Pat yourself on the back. Enjoy your accomplishment.

Like many other self-defeating behaviours, procrastination can be overcome. The place to begin is where you are.

The time to start is now.

If you need help then check out his upcoming workshop, by 3 Wise Women!  Transforming YOUR Time Challenge with Easy Success Ritual

Sally A Curtis – Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

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