Sunday, September 13, 2009

Overcoming Procrastination

The Spanish have a proverb: Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. Clever reminder to all of us that you may not have time tomorrow to take care of any delayed work.
We all procrastinate, deferring, and our offices floors are still home to piles of papers that needed filing several months ago; We have the bad habit of waiting for them to stop dallying and file themselves. Whatever the task, whatever the excuse, the tips below will help you do today what most people put off to next month:1. Ask yourself, What's the holdup? People procrastinate for many reasons. Some fear failure. Some avoid boring jobs. Others shy away from getting tangled in a complicated mess (i.e., my pile of papers). Knowing the cause of the problem may open your eyes to an obvious solution.
2. Do you need to do it? Simple question, but it's a good one. Sometimes we put something off because it's not important. If you don't really need to do it, free yourself of the mental burden and drop the task from your to-do list.
3. Ask for help. I have an ancient window mechanism that takes the effort of a drawbridge operator to open. Last month, unsurprisingly, it broke. Someone had to fix it, but I was hoping that someone wasn't me. So I put it off.
After weeks of gazing at the window without actually doing anything, I asked a friend to help. It wasn't only because I have the mechanical skills of an uncoordinated squid; I knew it would get me moving.
4. Commit just five minutes. That's it--just 300 seconds. Telling yourself you only have to do something for a sliver of time does two things.
It transforms a big job into a tiny matter: Five minutes? I can do that. And because getting started is the hardest part, once your five minutes is up you'll often drive right on through to the finish.
5. Focus on the end. Thinking about how you'll feel when you've done whatever needs to be done may motivate you to make it happen.
I don't much like to organize, but I love to be organized. This is what I focus on--the feeling of having everything in its place, clean and tidy--when I need to declutter a space. Although my pile of papers proves that I have some work to do.
6. Just do it. Quit stalling. Quit rationalizing. Stand up, walk to the danger zone, and get to work.
Time is Running OutYears ago I arrived at the Grainger School of Business ready to become a marketing guru. Four and a half years later I left wanting, not to help businesses motivate customers, but instead to help people motivate themselves.
After a few more years of studying, I achieved my goal. I discovered a simple system to help people do two things: change anything they want to change and achieve any goal they want to achieve.
It comes down to one skill. I found that people who could do one thing really well succeeded far more often than everyone else. And it's something anyone can learn, but most people don't know about it.

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