How to Beat Procrastination, Once and for All

Everyone experiences procrastination from time to time. Some people are chronic procrastinators, while others claim they work better under pressure. It is not about being lazy but often people run out of time or take on too many projects. Some of the things we never get around to doing are boring, difficult, overwhelming, and complicated. Most people procrastinate due to feeling overwhelmed.

Like many things, procrastination is a habit, and habits can be broken and retrained. You are one of the millions who procrastinate. You feel inadequate, guilty, depressed and have low self-esteem.

English actor Christopher Parker said, “Procrastination is like a credit card: It is a lot of fun until you get the bill.”

1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Divide big projects into smaller more manageable pieces.

The first key is to break down projects; this can be at home or at work.

For example you are given an assignment to write a 400 page novel. For the majority of people this would seem like a daunting task but what if we re-worded the project and it asked you to write a page a day for a week, a month, or a year. This would still seem daunting when looking at the entire year so take it one day at a time.

2. Write it down. This can be listed in no particular order and will give you a handle on just what you need to accomplish. A calendar (with plenty of room for notes) is a useful way to schedule short and long term goals. Sometimes its easier to start with the worst task.

3. Schedule priority items

One useful way to schedule items in order of priority is to use deadlines. For example if you have a 5 page paper to write, scheduling to work on it from 6:00 until 7:00 each night from Monday until Friday for one week will allow you to finish your paper on time. This can apply to many other items as well such as paying bills or writing a proposal for work.

4. During scheduled times do what was scheduled.

Often people will avoid working on the priority by cleaning their closet which hasn’t been done in 7 years or washing dishes or even walls, anything to avoid the priority item.

5. Schedule in breaks and rewards. One form of a break might be relaxing or meditating for 3-5 minutes between work sessions. Others enjoy more social relaxation such as a movie, TV, phone call, a date, a trip to a coffee shop. While others enjoy a walk or some exercise, others may enjoy food or drink treat such as chocolate. Others may enjoy some music, a new item of clothing or a book. Others enjoy a bubble bath, flowers, or candles. Leisure time or time doing a hobby or a trip may also be a satisfying reward.

6. Find yourself an accountability partner, someone to help monitor your progress. Tell them your plans and continue to tell them you proceed. Another accountability option is to send emails to yourself asking for progress reports and reminding yourself of important tasks to do. Sometimes your accountability partner can be used to help delegate tasks to others.

7. Try to set realistic goals for yourself and your time. There are only 24 hours a day and at least 7 of those you should be sleeping, that would leave you with 17 hours. Use your time consistently.

8. Be honest with your self about how much you can do. Learn how to say “no” if you are unable to take on a task. People need to prioritize and do the most important tasks first.

9. Make a to-do list and include time approximations for how long each part will take, always add in extra time for the unexpected or interruptions. What if you have to run to the store for more ink while printing your term paper, did you allow yourself an extra hour buffer before class starts.

10. Do not be too hard on yourself. The more stressed or worry about what you have to do; the less likely you are to do your work. Concentrate on your strengths and develop a “can do” attitude.

11. Do not be a perfectionist. It does not always have to be done perfect, just do it! Go on; admit that you have some fears and anxieties about your ability to get the job done! It is not a case of all or nothing.

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