Think about the task of writing an article such as this one. Imagine the time and energy it might take a person who procrastinates to: 1) think about starting the article, 2) put it on a ‘to do’ list, 3) talk about doing it, 4) promise themself to start it tomorrow, 5) promise themselves to definitely start it tomorrow, 6) promise…well, you get the point.
As the midnight deadline for the article draws near, imagine the stress the writer must feel as she brews a pot of coffee and prepares herself for a couple of hours to research the topic, organize the information, create an outline, come up with a dynamic opening line, write the article, rewrite the article, rewrite it again, print it out and rewrite it one more time. And, of course, the whole time beating herself up for waiting so long to begin or telling herself she isn’t good enough anyway and the article will be a bust. “If I only had more time!”
Sound familiar to anyone? This is procrastination in full bloom. Delays, broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem creep in. Worry. Fear. Stress. Overwork. You know the drill.
Procrastination isn’t good for anyone. So why do so many of us do it? We procrastinate on such matters as filing income tax and completing holiday shopping, but also with everyday tasks such as straightening our desk, cleaning out the garage or starting a new project at work.
The more difficult, inconvenient or scary we perceive the task to be, the more we procrastinate. We craftily come up with semi-convincing self-talk that makes the delay appear almost reasonable. But in the end the process is self-defeating and causes all sorts of problems for us, not the least of which is stress.
Fortunately, as with many other self-defeating behaviors, procrastination can be overcome. The following are a few remedies to start you on your way.
1. Set goals. Decide what you want and what needs to happen to get it. Be specific. Create a realistic and attainable timetable.
2. Commit. Make a contract with yourself. Tell a friend, co-worker or coach about your plan. Accountability is a great motivator
3. Set priorities. Make a list of things that need to be done in order of their importance.
4. Get organized. Have the right tools and equipment to do the job. Make lists. Keep a schedule or calendar.
5. Chunk it down. Don’t let the whole of the project overwhelm you. Break it down into small manageable steps and work on one piece at a time.
6. Use positive self-talk. Stay focused on what you do well. Replace excuses with rational, realistic thinking.
7. Reward yourself often and generously for accomplishing even the smallest of tasks. Celebrate your accomplishments
The place to begin is right where you are. The time to start is now.