How to Stop Procrastinating

Steps to Understanding and Overcoming Procrastination

“Help ! I know am not as motivated as I would like to be. There are always more exciting things to do than work. As long as my bills are paid, money doesn’t necessarily motivate me.

Can somebody please tell me how to stop procrastinating?”

Procrastination tempts all of us at times. In order to know how to beat it, we need to look at what procrastination really is, and how we can overcome it to be productive and profitable.

7 Helpful Hints on How to Stop Procrastinating

1) Don’t be so hard on yourself! Procrastination is not laziness. Okay, maybe sometimes it is a result of laziness. But often, procrastination can be traced back to other, less morally reprehensible causes, like perfectionism or lack of organization.

2) Stop expecting perfect. Check your perfectionism. At the door. Sometimes the reason we put off starting or finishing a job is the fear that we will not be able to complete it as perfectly as we would like. Self-doubt causes paralysis which leads to failure with a load of guilt besides. No human person is perfect. This includes you and me. Get over it and get on with it!

3) Step by step. “One bite at a time” or “How do you eat an elephant?” There are times when the size of the project can seem overwhelming. Do one little thing. Then do another. If you are faced with a daunting list of tasks to complete a project, start by setting a timer for just fifteen minutes.

The theory is that you can do anything for fifteen minutes. Surprisingly, this works! Spend your quarter of an hour on that crushing task and then stop and do something unrelated for another thirty minutes. You will then find yourself refreshed and ready to go back to the larger task.

4) Get organized. It also helps to plan and prioritize just how you will complete your “elephant” job. Break it down into smaller increments. List these and check them off as each task is finished. Seeing that you have accomplished something is a great motivator.

5) Make yourself accountable. Find a good friend who will help you stay on track. Knowing that someone cares is important. You will want to have a positive answer ready for the question, “So what did you get done today?”

6) Set realistic goals. This is a variation on Step 2. Have you set a goal to write ten articles a day in your spare time this week? Sometimes we unwittingly expect more of ourselves that we can reasonably expect to deliver within a restricted time frame. This leads to failure, which leads to disappointment and lack of motivation. When you are budgeting your hours, be sure to be realistic and to allow extra margin for unforeseen interruptions.

7) Reward yourself for work well done. Sometimes, perversely, the pain of procrastination can be its own reward. We deliberately put things off in order to feel the rush of the deadline. After a while, though, this gets not only old, but dangerous. Missing a deadline can mean missing money in the real world. The thrill of the last minute doesn’t make up for the disappointment of wasted time and effort.

Instead, be sure to treat yourself upon completion of any project. Something as simple as a sampling of your favourite chocolate, or as elaborate as a weekend away, can be a good motivator to complete your work on time every time.

You can be the organized, productive person you want to be. Work through these seven steps and you will be on your way to understanding and overcoming procrastination.

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Norma Esler
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