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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Outsmart Procrastination 1-2-3

Do you hear yourself saying, 'I will do it later' more than you care to mention? You lose time and energy and achieve less as a result of putting things off. Do not let that dreaded procrastination bug get you down anymore. There are ways to beat it.

1. So how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course! Divide and conquer a large project by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Start off slow using small baby steps. Going through the tasks one by one will be much less stressful and overwhelming than trying to get a large project finished all at once. And as soon as action has begun on a specific task, you just might find the project taking on a life of its own and actually becoming enjoyable.

2. Try completing a task immediately. Do not give it any thought. Just do it. This is a great way to get things done fast as you will not be spending time thinking about it beforehand. And it is a good way to prevent you from even thinking any thoughts about putting off the task for another day.

3. Reward yourself when you complete a task or a series of tasks. This is a step that many people forget to take into account. As an incentive and to boost motivation, give yourself a reward for accomplishing a task and accomplishing it on time. Whatever the reward may be, whether it is simply a positive affirmation or buying yourself a treat, make sure the reward is something that inspires and motivates you to get the job done. And remember to reward yourself throughout a project, not just at the end.

4. Create a to-do list. It is better to write tasks down then to have them sitting in our mind where they can get lost with all of our other thoughts. Write down all of the things you have been putting off and keep that list in view. As you complete each task, cross it off, and continue to go down the list. Keep a note pad handy to record tasks as you think of them. Keeping all of your projects on a central to-do list will prevent tasks from being forgotten. As you check items off your to-do list, you will be able to track projects and see the progress you are making.

5. Create a schedule and set deadlines. A task without a deadline is destined to be put off indefinitely. Scheduling is very helpful in getting tasks accomplished and it keeps projects on track. Make sure your scheduling is reasonable and not too stringent. Spread a large task out over several sessions. This will prevent you from getting bogged down with one large task or project thereby making it easier to want to put it off. Take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to look over what you have accomplished for the day and get an idea of what you wish to accomplish the following day. Finally, make a weekly appointment with yourself to plan tasks for the upcoming week to follow through on your goals.

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6. If possible, do the worst, most difficult or uncomfortable task first and get it out of the way. Tackling that task will lift a weight off your chest and you will feel much more productive and willing to perform other tasks.

7. Whenever possible, eliminate distractions. Distractions are one of the biggest reasons tasks are not started or finished. In fact, you may find yourself looking for distractions to avoid working on tasks. Focus by turning off the television, cell phone, the Internet, etc. Clear off your work area. Try to keep things in your office and home in order. Keep it tidy and clean. Order helps to curb procrastination and a clean environment tends to create a clearer mind.

8. A good technique for outsmarting procrastination is goal visualization. When we procrastinate, we put off achieving an end result. Many times that end result is very appealing. The result could be peace of mind, money, fun, etc. By focusing on the goal and visualizing yourself achieving that end result can help to remove any doubts you have about beginning the project and going through the process of achieving the goal.

9. Use a timer. Set a timer for 30 minutes and begin a task. Setting a time limit will help you focus on the task at hand, curb daydreaming and motivate you to complete the work. And once you have started the task, you may find yourself becoming absorbed in what you are doing and continue with it rather than stopping when the 30 minutes is over.

10. One common cause of procrastination is perfectionism. It is important to understand and remember that no one and nothing is perfect. Thinking that you must do the job perfectly on the first try will likely prevent you from ever getting started. This expectation creates stress, anxiety and the fear of failure. Keep in mind that you are a human and that being perfect tends to lead to procrastination and that it is perfectly O.K. to not get the project done perfectly. Instead of striving for perfection, aim for progress.

by Maria Gracia - Get Organized Now!™
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