Procrastination—Everyone Talks About It, but Nobody Does Anything

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.


Author’s content used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

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The Road Ahead: What Will You Do Differently in 2013?

Changing the way things are done can bring opportunities for great success. However if our reaction to change is fearful (or even irrational), it can result in failure, diminished quality and loss of productivity.

When it comes to work and business, it can be tempting to give in to those anxieties by doing what we’ve always done. But priming the pump for a better year involves some form of adjustment to free up the time, money and energy needed to invite opportunities for success.

How do you decide what changes are the most important to make? Start by asking yourself these questions:

1.  What personal and/or business tolerations have interfered with your progress over the past year? Tolerations are a good indication of issues in need of resolution.

2.  Were last year’s goals reached? Why or why not? How will those obstacles be addressed? Setting new goals without having evaluated the previous year’s goals can result in a cycle of substandard results.

3.  What fiscally responsible goal (making more money, collaborating, creating new products/services, improved marketing strategy, etc.) will also be enjoyable? All work and no play make Jack a dull (and bored) boy, as the saying goes.

What do you need to change to have a better year?

Choose passion over profit. Connect to your bigger purpose in life, work and business and the rewards will flow effortlessly. Passionate people attract success.

Higher learning. Technology changes fast. Staying on top of what’s working now is only half the battle. Discovering what’s up and coming and leveraging that knowledge is the key to an exceptional year.

Celebrate success. Acknowledging and rewarding success keeps everyone motivated. Mark those mini-milestones with celebration and recognition!

Add, don’t subtract. When repeat clients stop buying your products or services, something needs to change. Instead of cutting prices, add value instead–bundle existing services/products, add bonuses or create new offerings.

What are your blind spots? 

Every driver has blind spots. That’s what rear-view mirrors are for. Blind spots in the work and business environment can be harder to identify. How does a person avert disaster in a work environment without the benefit of mirrors?

Ask around. Getting honest feedback from clients, customers and service providers can be as uncomfortable as it is invaluable. Do it anyway.

Coffee time. Chat with colleagues and encourage them to share their observations about what you are doing well and what needs improvement. Sometimes what needs to change is missed because it is so “obvious.”

Seek professional help. Getting an objective outsiders opinion can help you see what is going well or not.

Making changes in the New Year doesn’t have to be a scary proposition. Having a clear sense of what’s ahead will circumvent failure and set you up for a successful year.

Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications

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