What Can I Do to Stop Procrastinating and Start Doing? 8 Things to Do Now
Nearly everyone on the planet is guilty of procrastinating at some time. In fact, some are guiltier than others, and those who are guilty concur that it is the ultimate nonproductive habit. Unfortunately, once started, it is very difficult to know how to stop procrastinating. The good news is that there are some very useful tips for stepping up and start doing.
"Shoulda, woulda, coulda..." these are not just examples of bad grammar, but are much worse: these three words are examples of bad thoughts. These three words sum up and define procrastination - the roadblock to success in business, entrepreneurship, relationships and just about anything that requires action. Procrastination is a thief. If you don't learn tips to stop procrastinating and start doing, procrastination can have such a negative impact on your life that it can jeopardize your ability to achieve your life goals, interfere with your relationships and hamper your business or career.
If we are truthful, we have all been guilty of procrastination sometime in life. Apple founder, Steve Jobs, probably succumbed to procrastination at some point, but it is obvious that he was wise enough to stop procrastinating long enough to make Apple the company it is today.
Granted, there might be times when there is a valid reason to put off a task until later, but the majority of the time a task is willingly delayed merely because the task is distasteful, difficult or you are unsure of how to complete it.
So, what do we do to overcome what can be a massive roadblock to success. There are many people who have admirably developed methods to get around the worldwide problem. If you have developed your own techniques to bury that psychological obstruction, that is wonderful. It is far easier to adopt techniques you have developed because you will be much more likely to continue to use those techniques. But there are methods available for those who haven't yet found what works.
Procrastination is an insidious impediment to achieving your goals. For example, you stop writing to play with the dog, which then becomes time to walk the dog, which then becomes time to groom the dog. One thing leads to another and the day slips away. While many tasks related to the dog's well being were completed, your original goal and task of writing the article was not.
Get off that procrastination treadmill. It's a lot of effort to get you nowhere. A lot of effort because the task facing you is replaced by other, often meaningless or nonproductive busy work.
What can you do about proscrastination? Are there any habits you can develop to counter the urge to lay the task aside until you can't put it off any longer? The news is that there are actions you can take. I've listed a few here, not in any particular order.
Make a To Do List
Tips to Stop Procrastining
Make that ubiquitous to do list. Lists are not overrated when it comes to procrastinators. List the tasks that need to be completed. Break each task into subtasks to make the work more palatable.
- Provide yourself positive reenforcement for completing the task. As you continue to complete tasks, you will become less and less likely to put things off because you will have conditioned yourself to anticipate a pleasant rewad. For example, finish your bills far in advance of their due date then treat yourself to a latte or an afternoon in the park. Your reward does not have to extravagant, but it should be something that gives you pleasure and should fit the size and difficulty of the task you have completed.
- Create a calendar of tasks. Assign a date to each task and assign dates to any subtasks you have identified within the larger task. If you can, assign the time that you will finish the task or subtask.
- Consider the consequences. What happens if you don't act on that task in a timely manner? Some consequences may be minor, others may have a huge impact on you that reach far into the future. Don't overlook that.
- Plan your day early. As soon as you get out of bed in the morning, review the things that need to be accomplished that day. Be sure to include any tasks you may be avoiding. This is the time to embrace the quote "never put off 'til tomorrow what you can do today."
- Have a "big picture" mentality. How will procrastination impede your progress to achieving your goals, realizing your vision? How will actions make those goals a reality?
- Enlist the aid of a "coach" (or friend, family member, business partner) for feedback and to keep you on track.
- Visualize the task as completed. It will help to begin with the end clearly in sight. This means the mental exercise of performing the steps to completing the task. See the end product and see yourself collecting your reward.
Take a moment to think of the times and ways procrastination may have negatively impacted your life. Did you send in that college application on time or did you wait until the last minute, maybe even missed the deadline and settled for a different university because you didn't act in time? How about that term paper or that grant, that financial report, all having deadlines; did you meet them? Did you start your project immediately or did you wait until the eleventh or twelfth hour? What about those taxes? Are you always searching for that wayward gas receipt on April 14th when taxes are due on April 15th?
Often, when you delay a task until later or until the last minute, an emergency or crisis will invariably emerge, which necessitates putting the task off even longer. You will be uncomfortable in some other way while trying to complete the task. For example, you wait until a week before a term paper is due, when you've known the due date for a month. That last week, unfortunately, is the week you come down with the flu, causing you to struggle to finish the paper while you're miserably sick. A stellar paper will not be the result. That crisis could have been avoided had you created an earlier deadline and not procrastinated until the last minute to start the paper.
Share Your Solutions to Stop Procrastinating
For some, procrastination is an ever present temptation. Arm yourself with the best weapons to stop procrastination before it snares you and creates a crisis which is a precursor to stress and all the health issues it can cause.The good news is that procrastination can be conquered. Being fully aware of when you are procrastinating is one of the biggest steps you can take to stop procrastination. Following the simple steps outlined here can help keep you on track when procrastination threatens.
You may have other techniques and ideas to stop procrastination. Don't hesitate to share them in the comment section. Your solution may help someone else.
© 2012 Cynthia B Turner