Are you a chronic ‘put off till tomorrow’ type or is it just the odd project or problem that you just can’t bring yourself to tackle?
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Procrastination is a pain – literally – as it is behavior that can ruin your health, happiness and relationships. Here are my top 7 tips to get you started on tackling it. They are designed to support you, give you inspiration and help you to stay on track and on top of your procrastination. So let’s go – oh you want to have a coffee first`? Of course you do!
1. “Procrastination Is Opportunity’s Natural Assassin”
This is the quote that I really think is the best one to start us off with. It comes from Victor Kiam, the businessman who liked his razor so much, he bought the company who made it!
We all procrastinate from time to time, but if you turn it into a habit you are preventing yourself from benefiting from the many opportunities life can offer you.
Think about: What opportunity have you ‘killed’ by putting it off – and what were the consequences? If you are still doing it, what would it take to give it up?
2. “Tomorrow Is Often The Busiest Day Of The Week”
This anonymous quote echoes a familiar theme for procrastinators. We are always definitely going to tackle it ‘next week’, or when we have time, or things improve at work or …. (fill in your own reason or excuse).
However, NOW is all the time we have and there is no mileage to be gained in forever living in the future. It is the place to dream about, and plan for with goals – but you can only make those happen with action in the present.
Think about: The ‘tomorrow’ sentiment is fairly universal, especially for us procrastinators, but the trick is to take action today so that tomorrow is the least busiest day of the week! That way you can really enjoy life with no guilt over what you have left undone.
3. “Anyone Can Do Any Amount Of Work Providing It Isn’t The Work He Is Supposed To Be Doing At That Moment”
Robert Benchley was a well-known American humorist – but procrastination really isn’t that funny when it stops you from doing all the things you really want to do is it? It’s strange isn’t it how we can find the time to do the things we love and want to do, and yet there isn’t enough time in the day for that thing we are procrastinating about?
Think about: How about deciding to ‘choose’ to be doing exactly what you are meant to be doing right now, and carrying it out in a positive, optimistic way – believe me it will go much quicker if you do. If I may paraphrase Shakespeare, and why not, then ‘How do I avoid thee – let me count the ways?’ sums up a favorite way procrastinators avoid what they are meant to be doing. What is it you do as your favorite procrastination avoidance technique?
4. “Anger Is The Only Thing To Put Off Until Tomorrow”
This Slovakian proverb has my full approval. We are encouraged to sleep on our anger to allow time for us to see things in perspective. Remember you can view procrastination as a friend or an enemy. At some points in your life it can help you, but if you rely on it to get you out of situations you are overwhelmed by, or don’t want to face up to, then you are setting yourself up for a stressful life.
Think about: Your future health and happiness depends on your taking action to make it happen as you want it. Not as you let circumstances dictate.
If you keep putting things off they don’t go away; however much you close your eyes to them, they are still there. So open your eyes and enjoy finishing that task!
5. “Procrastination Gives You Something To Look Forward To”
Joan Konner was Dean of Journalism at Columbia University, USA. and most journalists do need deadlines to get them motivated. Do you like treats? Anticipating the good things that are just around the corner? Then this quote is right up your street.
Think about: If you don’t have a ‘real’ deadline, how would it be if you were to reward yourself for not procrastinating and taking some action?
In ‘Procrastination How To Stop It Right Now’ I recommend the idea of a Treat Jar, so why not try it? Think of 20 treats, both large and small, that you would really enjoy and write each one on a small piece of paper. Screw them all up and put them in a jar or bowl. Reward yourself when you have taken action over your procrastination by taking one out and treating yourself.
6. “When There Is A Hill To Climb Don’t Think That Waiting Will Make It Smaller”
This quote from that well known sage ‘Anonymous’, certainly rings true. Every year when my tax return is due I have ‘forgotten’ how much work is involved. Rather like the pain of childbirth, it fades over time so you don’t remember the full agony of it. In my mind it is a trifling task that will take no time at all to accomplish – and that is one good reason for me continuing to put it off – or so I think! But no matter how long I delay, the amount of work is the same, plus the added stress of being up against a deadline.
Think about: How to overcome this? By breaking the task down into small, manageable chunks. I talk about a useful acronym, KISS (Keep Implementing Small Steps), in my book and by using this technique you and I will soon be at the top of the mountain – whatever its size – and with the fine glow of accomplishment as our companion.
7. “Postpone Not A Good Action”
This Irish proverb prompts you to consider whether you think your procrastination is just about avoiding the things you don’t want to do. Of course it can be, but often we can have a generous thought about doing something that may benefit another but we hesitate and delay. So we deny ourselves the pleasure of giving to others, and we deny them the pleasure of being served in some way.
This isn’t just about giving money – it’s the thought that counts. Like when we see someone struggling with a heavy door, or trying to get a pushchair up an escalator, or onto a bus, and we think of stepping forward. Then we hold back, ‘perhaps they don’t want help’ you think, or ‘well it’s not my place’.
Think about: Following that generous impulse of your heart, for if we cannot be generous to others, how can we be truly generous to ourselves?
By procrastinating we are so often wasting our time and energy on things that don’t matter – and neglecting the things that do. It’s your life so really live it, don’t postpone or put off but embrace the opportunity to change your life – and get things done!