"Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him." -Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
Procrastination is a known thief and murderer, stealing time and killing plans for a better, easier, more pleasant existence. So why do we keep on opening the door to it and how do we overcome its charming allure?
Recognize it - Ask yourself why you are putting something off. Identifying the real reason will help you to recognize procrastination for what it is, but you have to be honest with yourself.
- Are there other steps that must be completed first?. Complete them.
- Is it low on your priority list? Acknowledge that and stop complaining that you don't have the time or money or energy to do it. Those are not the real reasons.
- Is fear of knowing what to do or of the consequences of your previous inaction causing you to delay important tasks? Realize that waiting will not help and may actually worsen your fear or the consequence. Look at it as an opportunity to learn how to do something so that it will be easier next time.
Plan your counter-attack - Guard against procrastination by establishing a plan for completing the task as soon as you think of it. Having a plan of attack will eliminate unexpected obstacles to getting it done and will make the idea of completing it less daunting.
- Schedule it on your calendar.
- Budget for it.
- Arrange for help, such as babysitting or extra manpower, if required.
- Assemble tools, materials or information needed to complete the task.
- Break bigger projects into smaller steps.
Call for back up - Get help in holding yourself accountable.
- Set a deadline and make it known to others.
- Accept any help that is offered...as they say, "many hands make light work".
- Combine unpleasant tasks with something pleasant, such as exercising with a friend or arranging a lunch date at a restaurant next to your dreaded appointment. You'll be less likely to abandon your plan and stay on track.
Be a hero - Once you've completed your task, bask in the glow of accomplishment and savor the sense of relief that comes from getting that monkey off your back. You did it! Remember how good this feels the next time you are faced with a task you dread.
Overcoming your tendency to procrastinate will empower you to dream big and hope more because you'll have the confidence you need to tackle anything that intrudes on your ability to accomplish your goals.