Why do you procrastinate?
1. You’re too disorganized. You have so much to do, you don’t know where to begin . . . so you don’t.
The solution: Make a to-do list (a.k.a. your procrastination list). Prioritize it, and estimate the time required to do each item. If you discover – as I have – that the time to complete every item on your list exceeds the number of hours in a normal human lifetime, you have to accept the facts that you are mortal, you have to make some hard choices about what is most important to you, and sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night is not a waste of your precious time.
2. You feel overwhelmed. The thing you procrastinate the most is like a dreaded monster that you can never defeat. The more you avoid it the greater its power over you.
The solution: Break down the monster task into smaller, doable steps. When you’ve accomplished the first bite-sized task, you’ll gain both confidence and momentum to move on to the next. Over time, you will complete the monster task that once intimidated you. Imagine it as a trophy on your shelf (rather than a shadow over your shoulder).
3. It’s something so important – a speech, a job application, a resume, an important letter, or a novel – that you have to do a great job.
The solution: Take the pressure off. Jot down your ideas, speed write your first draft, and give yourself the luxury of rewriting that draft. Don’t wait for the pressure of a looming deadline to motivate you to start that important project. The lack of time may make it an inadequate effort. If you put off starting it indefinitely, you’ll miss out on the potential opportunities and personal satisfaction that would come with your completed task.
By starting earlier – with a quick draft, you’ll have a foundation on which to build and refine your best effort. You’ll be less likely to make careless omissions, and you’ll have extra time to add icing to the cake.
4. It’s something you really don’t want to do.
The solution: Decide if it’s important or necessary. If it’s neither, scratch it off your list. Don’t waste your lifetime completing someone else’s to-do list.
5. You keep getting sidelined by other more enjoyable activities.
The solution: Be a grownup and defer immediate gratification. Think about the benefits of getting the job done. Visualize yourself having completed your goal, and imagine the sense of accomplishment you will feel. Reward yourself after you get it done (not before).
Updating your Facebook status, chatting with friends and having a Starbucks can be your rewards after you get things done – not distractions, excuses or time-burners before you’ve completed your important task.