I know that procrastination is the biggest challenge most people have to achieve success. It is just so much easier to “do it tomorrow” than to “just do it now”. Everyone falls victim to this kind of thinking from time-to-time and procrastinating a little doesn’t make anyone a bad person. But when procrastination, left unchecked can transform your life to chaos pretty quickly.
Most people don’t procrastinate in every area of their lives, but will often have small areas that seem to give them the most difficulty. So-much-so that they even deny that they procrastinate at all. But the first step in overcoming any challenge is to admit there is a real problem. So if you think that your procrastination is starting to get the best of you, take a good look at the areas of your life where you are more likely to procrastinate. Examine the areas of your life that seem to get out of control more often. Ask yourself if it could be because you procrastinate doing something specific in those areas. For instance, if you tend to always underestimate how much money you have in the bank, ask yourself if it is because you hating balancing the checkbook. You keep putting it off until you really don’t know what is going on with your money.
Here are some useful indicators that will help you know when you’re procrastinating:
- Filling your day with low priority tasks from your To Do List.
- Reading e-mails several times without starting work on them or deciding what you’re going to do with them.
- Sitting down to start a high-priority task, and almost immediately going off to make a cup of coffee.
- Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time, even though you know it’s important.
- Regularly saying “Yes” to unimportant tasks that others ask you to do, and filling your time with these instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
- Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand.
So are you a procrastinator?
It is also a good idea to figure out why you procrastinate. Do you just find certain jobs unpleasant? Are you so disorganized that you can’t get started with a project? Or perhaps your perfectionism is keeping you from feeling like you just can’t do the task well enough? You don’t have time to do a good job so you need to put it off. All of these issues must be acknowledged so you can move past your procrastination.
Once you have admitted your procrastination tendencies it’s time to develop some strategies to help you move past procrastination. Because procrastination becomes a habit it must be broken. If it has become deeply ingrained in your behavior you can help yourself with a few strategies to help break the habit.
- Make up your own rewards. For example, promise yourself time at your favorite activity if you’ve completed a certain task. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
- Ask someone else to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle behind slimming and other self-help groups, and it is widely recognized as a highly effective approach.
- Identify the unpleasant consequences of NOT doing the task. Make a list of the “downside” to your procrastinating and read it often.
- If you procrastinate at work or in your own business figure out how much money you waste by procrastinating. Are you costing yourself or your boss a lot of money in unproductive time.
- Keep a to-do list so that you can’t “conveniently” forget about unpleasant or overwhelming tasks.
- Prioritize your to-do list so that you can’t try to kid yourself that it would be acceptable to put off doing something on the grounds that it’s unimportant, or that you have many urgent things which ought to be done first when, in reality, you’re procrastinating.
- Master scheduling so that you know when to start those all-important projects.
- Set goals that are time sensitive, that way, you’ll have no time for procrastination!
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Break the project into a set of smaller, more manageable tasks.
These are just a few ways to start combating procrastination. You may not need to employ all of them but start with some ideas that appeal to you and begin to break that unpleasant habit.