By Chris Butler
I’m a recovering procrastinator. I used to be very good at it, but I’m working hard on changing this bad habit; and I’m amazed at how much better I feel about my work and basically about myself.
No matter what career path you’ve chosen, procrastination has a very negative impact on your results.
Why? Because procrastination:
• Steals time from you
• Causes an enormous amount of stress
• Causes you to perform at levels less than your potential
• Lowers your self esteem
• Can cause you to lose money if you don’t complete your work on time
…And the list goes on.
Why do we procrastinate?
One definition of procrastination is: “Put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.”
Logic would tell you that if something should, or needs to be done, then it would be the first thing you’d do. However, there are many reasons this doesn’t happen:
• Fear of failure (especially if you tend to be a perfectionist)
• Feelings of being overwhelmed (you don’t know where to start)
• Feelings of uncertainty (inability or unwillingness to make a decision)
• Feelings of not having enough time (busy doing busy-work)
• Disorganization (can’t find anything when you need it)
• Thinking it’s too hard (it’s outside your comfort zone)
• Don’t want to do it (don’t enjoy it – don’t like it)
• Don’t know how to do it (feeling unqualified)
• Overworked and tired (creative avoidance)
Any one, or combination of these items can result in putting things off.
But knowing what causes it doesn’t, in and of itself, solve the problem. In fact Stephen Covey, American educator, author, businessman and motivational speaker, suggested instead of concentrating on the reasons why we procrastinate, we should change our behavior by developing new and more productive habits.
How to Overcome Procrastination
So what can you do to eliminate procrastination from your life? There are many things you can do, some easier than others. Here are a few tips:
• Before you do anything else, you need to define your goals. Decide where you want to go and what/who you want to be. This will help you decide what’s important and allow you to live your passion.
• Next, you need to plan your work. Write it down. Writing it down has an amazing power. Refer to it often so you keep on track.
• If you can, delegate some work. It takes some pressure off of you and gives you more time to concentrate on the important issues.
• Work your plan. Stick with it. If it needs editing along the way, that’s okay, but don’t just walk away from it. Keep going forward.
• Get organized. Clean up that desk and/or computer, put things in their place, create a system that works for you.
• Create a reasonable daily to-do list. Think about what you can truly accomplish in a day. Then once things are done, check them off…it’s a great feeling of accomplishment.
• Put the least inviting tasks first on your list. Get them done and out of the way. Many times they may be the most important. Again, Stephen Covey says “First things first”!
• Don’t overcomplicate what needs to be done. Break down your projects. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. If you make them into several smaller tasks, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.
• Make your mantra “do it now”. Don’t wait for the perfect time for something. It will never happen and you’ll have such a feeling of accomplishment when it’s completed.
• Take that first step. Martin Luther King, Jr., said “faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” You just need to get started. Take action now.
• Share your goals and work plan with someone else. Establish an accountability partner. For some reason, when you share it with someone else, you have a higher motivation to complete it. Your partner will help you through the rough periods and encourage you to keep going toward your goals.
• Believe in yourself. Trust that you will accomplish your goals. You can do this. Each step you take will help you get closer to where you want to be.
There are a lot of funny quotation about procrastination, usually sarcastic:
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”~ Mark Twain
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” ~ Bill Watterson
“My mother always told me I wouldn’t amount to anything because I procrastinate. I said, ‘Just wait.” ~ Judy Tenuta
But all kidding aside, we should pay attention to Charles Dickens, “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”
Many theories and suggestions circulate about how to overcome procrastination. I’ve only brushed upon the tip of the ice-burg here. You need to figure out what works for you. The important thing is…if you’re a procrastinator, you need to figure out how to change this bad habit.
Time is the equalizer in life. We’re all given the same amount of minutes in an hour, hours in day, days in a week. No one can buy more or create more. If you waste time, through procrastination, you’ve lost a valuable asset.
Please tell me your best ideas and tips for overcoming procrastination. Write them in the Reply section below.
After 27 years of corporate life in the telecommunications industry and four years as a real estate agent, Christine Butler decided to follow her passion and become her own boss. She began her writing career four years ago when she founded “Copy She Wrote, LLC”. She chose the RV industry as her major writing niche because she and her husband are living full time in their motor coach. Her new freelance copywriting career fits with her on-the-road lifestyle as she and her husband travel through the country in their home on wheels. To find out more about her go to her website at TheButlerWroteIt.com.