Saturday, November 21, 2009

How to stop procrastinating and get things done!

Here are 7 easy steps to help you stop procrastinating.

Not every tip will work for every person, so take what you can from this list and see what works for you.
1) Take an Inventory.

Do you hear a little nagging voice in your head telling you that you need to do something? Can you see a visual in your head about the task you are avoiding and are you feeling the physical and emotional consequences of what will happen if you do not complete this task?

Look at the clues that tell you just when and how you are procrastinating and you will be able to see that you are indeed putting something off.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell when you are procrastinating because you are attempting to avoid thinking about it but if you piece together the clues you will be able to pinpoint your behavior in order to get a handle on it.
2) Learn How You Procrastinate.

Do you think if you ignore the job at hand it will eventually go away and not bother you? I tried that once with a speeding ticket and nearly lost my license due to procrastination. Trust me when I say that ignoring the problem would not cause it to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Do you over-estimate or under-estimate the degree of difficulty in completing the task? Do you scoff at the impact not finishing the task will have on your future? Perhaps you substitute something important for something REALLY important, like putting the dishes away instead of working on that term paper that is due in two hours.

Maybe you take a short break, but let that short break turn into an all night event, and therefore put off getting to that task you need to finish.

You might focus on one part of the job to the exclusion of the remaining task and thereby never finish the entire thing.

Once you recognize how you procrastinate, you will better be able to put a stop to it. Often we do not even realize that we are procrastinating until it is too late and we’ve missed a deadline.

3) Make Yourself a Productive Environment.

For example, if you work from home, create a home office where there is no TV to distract you from your work. Sure, that baseball game is playing but you do not have time to watch it because you have a deadline with a client. If the TV is there, you will be tempted to turn it on and then full-blown procrastination occurs. If you are addicted to the Internet, but need to use your laptop or computer to do your work, then try to go somewhere where you would not be able to receive a signal and get online.

Removing temptation to do something other than what you NEED to do will help you put a stop to procrastination.

4) Throw Out Those Procrastination Myths.

Have you ever told yourself: I work best under pressure? That is the myth that nearly kept me from graduating from college. Once you believe that you can only work under pressure, you are giving yourself permission to procrastinate.

This can snowball and create serious problems for you if you have several deadlines looming. Or have you always told yourself : I cannot do this unless I have five uninterrupted hours?

This is simply another stalling technique that master procrastinators use for telling themselves it is ok to not start the project because they would not have time to finish it. If you do not start the task you will never finish it. It is okay to start something and then stop so you can finish it later.

Sometimes the simple act of beginning a task will break the cycle of procrastination and allow you to finish your job.

5) I cannot do this unless it is perfect.

The problem that most procrastinators have is that we are too hard on ourselves, demanding perfection where perfection is impossible. If you think you cannot start your term paper until you have THE perfect opening sentence, then you have once again given yourself permission to put it off.

6) Break Down the Job.

You have a job to do and it looks enormous. You could never, ever complete a job that big, so why even start? If that is your mindset, then you probably would not finish the job.

In order to combat this kind of thinking, break the job or task down into small, manageable chunks. Your kitchen is a disaster, it is too much for you to handle. Start on one end and clean off one counter. Voila! You have started.

Take baby steps and soon you WILL see that the entire task has been completed.

7) Change Your Attitude.

Often times we do not begin something we have to do because we tell ourselves how difficult it is going to be, or how disgusting the job is and how much we are going to hate doing it.

By giving ourselves reverse-pep talks we give ourselves permission to avoid beginning the task at hand. When you hear yourself doing this, change your attitude.

Be like the Little Engine that Could and tell yourself that you CAN do this, it is not that difficult or disgusting. If you tell yourself that you do not know how to do a particular task, change that around to tell yourself that you can learn as you go.

It is all a matter of mind over matter. If you think you can, you can.

It is true that you may not be able to do everything on your own. You are not Superman, though you do think you would look pretty cool in those red tights. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help when you know that you cannot do it on your own. If you do not understand a project at work, rather than putting it on the back burner and procrastinating, ask someone to clarify it for you.

Once you understand it better, the fear of tackling it will be gone and you can proceed. If you have a big job to do, then ask a friend or a coworker to help you be accountable for working on it. Let them check up on you every so often to see that you are making progress and soon you’ll find that the job is completed. The Buddy System is NOT just for deep sea divers anymore!

Also, remember, if you put away the project specs where you cannot see them, it is much easier to not think about what needs to be done. Leave your work where you can see it, as a visual reminder of what you have to do. If it is hidden, it is forgotten!


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