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procrastination

5 Ways to Conquer Procrastination

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5 Ways to Conquer Procrastination

Yesterday we talked about procrastination and how doing what your mind tells you is important and actually influences your self-esteem. Here are some tips I picked up from the "simplify"-newsletter I'm subscribed to. The newsletter is originally in German, so here's my (slightly edited) translation:

When you are procrastinating, if it's

because you don't have time,

you can

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • get rid of tasks that block your project
  • prioritize your project over other responsibilities
  • plan your activities and allot time-slots in your calendar

because you don't like it,

you can

  • simplify, break down, shorten, or settle for good instead of perfect
  • delegate, or exchange tasks with someone who is willing
  • think what would happen if you dropped the project
  • find ways to only accept tasks you know you'll enjoy

because the sheer size of the project makes it seem insurmountable,

you can

  • break it down into small pieces
  • start with the smallest and easiest to build confidence

because you think you have no choice,

you can

  • ask yourself what's the worst that will happen if this doesn't get done
  • check whether your goals and attitudes have changed to make the project so cumbersome
  • check your expectations of yourself - who or what convinced you to take this on in the first place?

because you don't know how to handle it,

you can

  • ask for help, find a mentor, contact an expert
  • consider taking classes and participating in workshops to obtain the know-how

I know, sometimes we have to do things we don't want to or else (enter your dooms-day prediction here).

You know what? Maybe getting fired / losing the partner / gaining five pounds won't be the end of the world. There are very few things you absolutely will not be able to bounce back from. The important thing to remember is you always always always have a choice!

If you don't like the consequences of not doing something you have to, you may as well get it over with quickly. You will feel much better for it.

Don't believe me? Try it yourself: write down all the tasks you usually procrastinate on a piece of paper. Place them in a jar, and at the beginning of your day, pick one and do it, then and there. Take care of it, cross it off your list, and then try to tell me you're not proud of yourself.

Just imagine what it'll feel like when you look back over everything you've accomplished! You could even prepare a roster to put up on the fridge / cubicle wall and give yourself smiley stickers for every task you get done, if you're a visual person who gets motivated by smiley faces, that is.

Something that only very recently worked wonders for me was the concept of accountability. Who'd have thought that having a coach actually helps you get your act together and your ball rolling in the right direction?! But you get the idea - just do it, and I promise you'll be happier. Isn't that what we're here for, really?

Image by Kaos2, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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Procrastination

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Do you know anyone who always gets their jobs done, is never behind on any commitment, keeps their promises, raises their children just like it's best for them, has never missed a deadline, balances their nutrition and checkbook, has time for regular exercise, and looks impossibly well groomed doing it all?

I don't.

Instead, I know many good people with great intentions, who find it hard to say "no", and who feel bad about themselves when life's circumstances get in the way of them finishing off their hopelessly overfilled plate of responsibilities.

Whatever our circumstances, we all have something we think we should be doing, but aren't. We do other stuff instead of that one thing, because we'll get to it later, we're just not quite ready yet, we don't feel like it, etc. In university, I took on extra shifts at the bar and even cleaned my room, dusted, and de-cluttered my desk before sitting down to write that essay. In life now I read books, write emails to or call my friends, and check up on internet gossip instead of going to the gym, preparing next week's blog post, or getting more into marketing my services. 

Let's be honest for a second - when you think you should be doing something but you're doing something else, you know you're procrastinating. You are aware of it, even if you're in denial - your subconscious knows what you're up to when you make a choice and spend your time and energy elsewhere. You do this thinking you'll feel better because obviously you prefer / it's easier / it's more fun doing what you're not supposed to.

But the truth is, procrastinating hurts your self-esteem in the long run.

Why? Because whether it's imaginary or not, the priority and importance you place on this task you're not doing won't go away by not looking at it.

Wow, those were quite a few negatives in one sentence, let's see if I can word it differently: Avoiding the gym, the conversation, the email, whatever thing you are not doing will haunt you until you do it. It won't matter that your house is hoovered or all your laundry is ironed, you'll still feel like you haven't accomplished anything today, because you didn't do what your mind tells you you should have.

More on that tomorrow. 

(From the archives, first published November 2008) 

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