How To Stop Procrastinating

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by Tom Watson on August 30, 2010

Does the following phrase sound familiar? “I’ll do that first thing tomorrow”.

Of course it does. That phrase may be the most popular in the history of mankind!

Many people know what they want to do. Many more know what they should do. But far too many take another course instead. 

This course involves spending hours upon hours doing “easier” work or substituting something more “fun” into their to-do list.

Now there is nothing wrong with some fun from time to time. We all need to escape from things for a while. But problems occur when you procrastinate too much. This leads you to never getting the most important tasks completed.

Not getting anything done can also send you into a downward spiral that makes your self-esteem take a nose-dive. This means you spend your days in a negative vibe, making it even harder for you to break free.

A negative vibe is not the only thing you need to worry about, procratination also prevents you from pursuing your dreams. Which is a shame, since procrastination can be overcome if you know how.

So how is this done? Here are a few tips to help you to stop procrastinating and start getting the most out of your life.

1. Stop thinking. Start doing.

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task”
William James

A little planning is a good thing to be sure. A lot of planning and thinking tends to have the opposite effect. You think and think and try to come up with “the perfect plan”.

This perfect plan is one where you don’t make mistakes. This perfect plan ensures you will never be rejected. This perfect plan makes sure everything will be pain free and lacking of obstacles.

Unfortunately, even if you had all the time in the world, you could never create such a perfect plan. Why? Because no such plan exists! The antidote to this problem is action, just take some!

2. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it”
Olin Mille

Odds are what you are so afraid of is simply small beans! Yet in your head you make it out to be Mount Everest. Put this task into the context it belongs! It is just one task, no bigger or smaller than any other.

3. Have some faith. Take the first step.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Avoid looking too far down the road and becoming paralyzed by the enormity of the project. This gives the impression the task is just too hard and will never get done. Just focus on taking the first step today.

When you take this step you change your mental state from resistant to positive. This results in a complete change of attitude which will propel you forward faster and faster.

4. Wake up and take care of the hardest task first.

“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”
Dale Carnegie

Do you need to make a phone call that you are dreading? Maybe you have some paperwork that needs to be completed sooner rather than later? Whatever it may be, get it out of the way first.

If you start your day this way you will not only feel relieved, you’ll get more done than you would otherwise because the rest of the day will be more enjoyable. This may be the single biggest action you can make to change your procrastination habit.

5. Just make a decision. Any decision will do.

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”
Theodore Roosevelt

What is really amazing is that the best advice often flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I mean it really seems counter intuitive to suggest you should just make “any decision”, when that decision could be a wrong one. 

Why is that? Well..the answer has two parts. 

Part One. The vast majority of wrong decisions can be corrected later with minimal time and effort.

Part Two. The positive vibe you create by just making a decision and moving forward propels you forward faster than if you made no decision at all and just stayed put.

6. Don’t fear success.

“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy.”
Denis Waitley

Many times what people really fear is looking like a loser if they were to fail. So what they do is postpone any action to some future date. Their favorite saying always begins with “someday I’ll get to it”.

To combat this you need to change how you look at failure before moving into the realm of the successful. Many successful people do not fear failure. The possibility that they may fail is just part of life to them.

If you think about it for a moment it becomes rather clear. You do not always get what you want in life! This is because the system is just not set up to work that way.

At the end of the day you need to put failure in its proper context. All it means is that things did not work out as planned. So what! Most things don’t work out as planned but that doesn’t mean we should all just quit.

7. Finish one task completely, then move on to the next.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started.”
David Allen

This is another one of those tips that can immediately make a huge impact on your life by just putting it to use. You need focus to succeed right? Of course you do. But it is hard to stay focused when you have five open projects.

It is for this reason that you need to close one book before opening another. Simply spend the few extra moments to finish one task, then you can put your laser like focus onto the next project.

This keeps you moving forward in an orderly fashion, which is exactly what you need to be efficient and free from procrastination.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ti Roberts December 2, 2012 at 12:23 am

You’ve given some great tips here, Procrastination is one of the biggest reasons that businesses don’e do as well as they could. Thanks for sharing this with our Bizsugar community.

Ti

2 Tom Watson December 2, 2012 at 9:09 am

Hi Ti! Glad you enjoyed. I’m a real fan of Bizsugar and all the people over there.

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