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Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

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overcoming procrastinationWe all put things off. We hope to avoid tasks that are boring, difficult, unpleasant, etc. When faced with something we don’t want to do, we can find a dozen tasks of no consequence to fill our time. We secretly hope that, by procrastinating, the unpleasant task will shrink and go away. Unfortunately, the reverse is often true; the deferred job just gets bigger and more difficult.

So what is the real cost of procrastination? Procrastination can affect your life, health and happiness many ways. Procrastination can cost you your job. Procrastination can cost you advancement (like failure to finish a degree). Procrastination can even cost you your life (like failure to lose weight, get seen by a physician, etc.).

Overcoming procrastination requires a strategy. The next time you’re tempted to put off something you don’t want to do, try some of these tips for overcoming procrastination:

  • Change your way of thinking.  Shift your thinking away from a "have to" mentality into a "want to" mentality. Change your way of thinking to how completing the task will improve your life rather than dreading doing it.
  • Kill the overwhelming feeling. Don't get overwhelmed by the idea of having to complete the task. Instead, focus your thoughts and energy on getting it started and let your momentum carry you through.
  • Have a vision. If you do not have a vision of what needs to be done and how you want to do it you will find it hard to summon the energy to tackle your task.
  • Create a plan of action. Most people procrastinate because they do not know where or how to begin a task. Create a written plan of action and write down the steps needed to complete the task. The act of creating a written plan helps your formulate how to get the task done. A written plan will also allow you to create a time line, and help divide a larger task into smaller manageable parts. It can also be a tool to measure progress against.  Most importantly it can also serve as a commitment to working the project. Keep your plan simple and straightforward. A plan that is to complex can also cause procrastination.
  • Break down your task into smaller parts.  Create small  "to-do's". Break each step out and list it separately. You don't have to tackle all the steps of a project in one sitting. You will see greater progress as you check more items off your list and you will avoid getting bogged down in one large task or project. Treat each step as a mini-goal. Don't worry about taking future steps, just focus on getting started on the current task and take time to celebrate after completing it. By breaking tasks into small "bite sized" parts the chances of making progress are much higher and you are less likely to procrastinate because of feel overwhelmed.
  • Avoid over-planning. Many people use planning as a way to procrastinate and never start. Instead balance the time spent planning with time spent creating or doing.
  • Act after you plan. Most people once they start a project actually find it is not as "big of a deal" as their mind has made it out to be. The first step in beating procrastination is just starting the task. Start with the one thing you must get done today to feel productive. This task should be a manageable item you can complete in 10-15 minutes.
  • Schedule your task and don't veer from it. Many people procrastinate because they do not set a formal date/time to work on their task.  When scheduling, determine how much you can do or tolerate at a time. Plan these project "pieces" into your daily activities. Don't push yourself too far or you'll get bored or frustrated. Set a start time and a "completion point" for accomplishing each small task. Completion points give you an end in sight to look forward to. Above all, consider this time as you would an appointment with someone else.
  • Do not look for perfection. Don't look for the perfect schedule, the perfect time to start or try to do everything perfectly. Accept that you are human and that there is no such thing as PERFECT.Perfectionism often causes procrastination. Perfectionists would rather put it off than do an incomplete job. Create a paradigm shift. Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for progress. Any small step toward completion is an accomplishment.
  • De-clutter. Many people procrastinate because their life and environment is cluttered. Relieve yourself of the stress caused by all of the clutter in your home and office by setting up some systems to manage your life. Take a few minutes to organize your work space. A clean office and a clean desk allows you to focus without visual distractions.
  • Remove distractions. Many people procrastinate because their life is full of distractions. Consider turning off the phone, turning off the TV, turning down music, putting the dog outside, etc.
  • Manage interruptions. Interruptions tend to occur in identifiable patterns. Notice when interruptions occur, by whom, and why and  take steps to prevent those interruptions before they occur, If certain interruptions can't be prevented, consider delegating them to someone else. If they can't be delegated, learn how to delay until you are finished.
  • Just do it. Tackle the worst job (or part of the job) first and get it out of the way. Once you tackle the part of the task you are dreading, the rest is a breeze. By doing this it can also give you the confidence to finish. If you are someone that gets easily frustrated alternate unpleasant jobs with tasks you enjoy or consider delegate out items you can't make yourself do so the overall project can keep moving.
  • Get accountable. Find an "accountability partner" to track your progress. One tip to do this is to share your plan and schedule with someone close to you that will help hold you accountable. Schedule a regular time to check in with your "accountability partner".
  • Create a reward system for yourself.  Rewarding your accomplishments encourages productivity. Give yourself a break, a treat, a nap -- whatever is a reward for you. Don't be stingy with the rewards; reward every step along the way, not just the end result. The bigger the accomplishment, the bigger the reward.
  • Believe in yourself and in your ability to accomplish anything you want.  Release the fear of failure. Failure is just a learning experience. It is never too late to start a new. Just believe in yourself . Remmeber, slow and steady wins the race. A little bit done every day adds up to a lot over a year. So, just believe that if you start, and commite to spending a set time each day or week, you will reach your goals.

By implementing these helpful tips to overcome procrastination you should be able to overcome many of the traps that cause procrastination. As  minimum you will be on the right road to completing the task in your life that you have deemed to be important.

About the Author

Jeff Behar

Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a well known author, champion natural bodybuilder, is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, personal trainer, and life coach with over 30 years of experience in the health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, and  anti aging fields. As a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, Jeff Behar has also  been featured on several radio talk shows, TV, and featured in popular bodybuilding publications such as Flex and Ironman. Jeff's work has appeared all across the web, in books, and in peer reviewed scientific journals. Jeff Behar is also the founder of the very popular www.MuscleMagFitness.com and www.MyBesthealthPortal.com health and wellness information websites; two of the largest 24/7 online web portals providing 24/7 news and information about top health, medicine, wellness, fitness, diet, nutrition, weight loss and anti aging issues that are being discussed today.

Last modified on Sunday, 15 July 2012 12:07
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