Procrastination. Why do we postpone what needs to done today until tomorrow? Often, it's a bad habit picked up at some point in life. In more serious cases, procrastination is linked to feelings of guilt, low self esteem, inadequacy and fear of success. A distorted sense of not only time, but also the scope and scale of the task inhibits us from completing the task at hand. In less serious cases, it's laziness. If we can get away with putting off a distasteful task and not suffer consequences, why not put it off again?
However, procrastination hinders success in life. It is essential that we adhere to deadlines, accomplish tasks efficiently, and meet the expectations of others.
Ten simple techniques to overcome procrastination:
1. Create To-Do Lists
Disorganization and chaos lead to procrastination. Too many tasks, big and small, can easily overwhelm us. Think of structuring your life in the same way that a business executive approaches project management. Write a list of the tasks for the day that need to be accomplished. As you complete a task, check it off. Once done, it no longer weighs on your mind and you can proceed to the next task.
2. Baby Step It
Resolve yourself to completing one task at a time, not two, three or more in a big sweep. The satisfaction you'll feel from accomplishing a single task can fuel you to take on the next. Motivation and the flip side, procrastination, can spiral up or down. Momentum builds with success.
3. Easiest First
Break the procrastination mindset by doing the easiest task first. The task that requires minimum time and effort, once done, can get the ball rolling in your day. Some people prefer to complete unsavory tasks first so they can enjoy their day. It's up to you. The point is: to start.
4. Set Deadlines before Deadlines
We often wait until the last minute instead of allotting a daily chunk of time to get things done. Push the deadline forward and ensure that you make the actual deadline. Avoid not only the stress-laden scramble at the eleventh hour, but also other more serious consequences due to late delivery of work.
5. Appointment books
In the same way that you create to-do lists, keep appointment books and jot down the time and dates when you need to make a meeting or be somewhere. In a world of Palm Pilots and PDAs, you can even set email alerts to signal when and where you need to be on any given day.
6. The Carrot & The Stick
Once you complete a task, reward yourself with a little goodie—e.g., a walk to the park, chocolate bar or a warm bath. Take breathers between tasks. If you're still procrastinating, remind yourself of the negative effects of inaction. What do you stand to lose if you don't complete the task?
7. Use Affirmations
Paste confidence-lifting affirmations on your computer and refrigerator. Replace negative thinking with positive energy. Develop faith in your abilities and competence by affirming your own worth.
8. Partner Up
Ever notice how many screenwriters it takes to write a Hollywood blockbuster? TV shows are written by teams of writers who knock their heads against the wall daily trying to figure out how to come up with a decent script. If you're having a particularly tough time with a task, find a buddy to help you.
9. Learn How to Set Goals
Don't be afraid to think about the future and what's possible with a little planning. Give yourself goals. Separate them into short-, medium- and long-term goals. Write them down.
10. Get Counseling
If you're suffering from serious procrastination issues, then identify a counselor who can help you sort out the emotional causes of the behavior. Life is short. There are quadriplegics who compete in rigorous athletic events. Blind musicians who play their instruments like virtuosos. Numerous disadvantaged people have overcome tremendous obstacles to live a vibrant life.
Carpe diem. Seize the day.