How is it that a grown woman/man can procrastinate day after day, month after month, and year after year? Because procrastination works. It keeps you from having to do the task that you just hate to do. Well here’s the news, folks, you can break the habit (if you want to, that is).
- Keep a procrastination log. (You’ll enjoy this because you’ll be procrastinating from doing something else.) The way a procrastination log works is this: take notes on those items that you know you should be doing, but you just aren’t getting them done. As each item floats into your consciousness, write it down. You can have a special pad or notebook just for this.
- After a few days of this, look at the items in your log and divide the list into “work” items and “personal” items. Sometimes, you will see a pattern just by doing this step! It’s amazing when you realize that you never procrastinate at work or you never procrastinate on personal items. If this is the case, then you could have some insight into the issue just by knowing this. If not, however, move on to the next step.
- Look through your lists and see if there are any items that can be done in five minutes or less. Do these immediately! (Now you can check off a few items in your log and this is so very satisfying).
- Next, look through your lists and tell the truth. Be honest with yourself. Are there items that you’ve written down that you know you’ll never do? Cross them off. They are just bugging you and weighing you down with guilt–and there’s no need for that if you know perfectly well that you will NEVER do them. Just cross them off.
- “Return” a task that really isn’t yours. This might be a home task or a work task. You probably have a gracious plenty of tasks, responsibilities, and projects that are yours and yours alone. The last thing you need to do is take on any extras. So give the task back to the original owner.
- Delegate anything on your list that you can reasonably delegate. Can you pay another person (or company) to do one or more of the tasks on your list? It’s possible there are children or teens in your house who would clean up your linen closet/pantry/storage area for $$. Isn’t it worth that to you? And heavens knows that whatever your salary is, you are probably procrastinating items at work that could be hired out to someone who makes less than you do.
- Is there anything on your procrastination log that really calls for a professional to step in and help you or take over the task? What if the carpet in your home or office is pulling up from the seam and you can’t fix it yourself (nor should you try to!)? Set a specific time every week to make phone calls to professionals to help you with odd tasks like this.
- Check through your list to see if there are actually procrastinated tasks that you are afraid of. How about that big project your employer asked you to do? Even if you aren’t going to do the task today, make an outline of what must be done to complete the task. Force yourself to complete one item on the outline before you leave work today. Ed Bliss calls this the salami technique. Just slice off a tiny little piece and get it done. Much easier (and tastier) than trying to gnaw on a whole salami.
- Hmmmm…now what about those tasks on your procrastination log that you hate to do? Accounting, filing, etc.–and it depends on the person what is on this list. If you really can’t stand to do the task, but it’s part of your job, then get to work 10 minutes early for the next several days until these items are caught up. Then designate an early morning time to complete the item on a regular basis.
- Lastly, don’t allow yourself to whine about your procrastination. In the time it takes you to whine, you could have finished the task.
And a final tip to get rid of the procrastination time thieves is to read Rita Emmett’s book The Procrastinators’ Handbook. It’s worth the time it takes to read the book, believe me. No thievery there!