Many Are Afflicted, But There Is a Cure!

How to stop procrastination discusses the causes and strategies to overcome this quandary. Just for fun, I have included some procrastination quotes.

Procrastination is a habit that can be changed. It may take some time to overcome it, just as it does to overcome any habit. As with all behavior changes, the first step is to decide if you want to be a person who procrastinates. It is your decision.

Don't think that you are the only one who procrastinates. We all do it occasionally.

After you have made a firm decision, continue reading about the reasons people procrastinate and how to overcome the problem. I must warn you that it will require some time management skills.

“If you have goals and procrastination, you have nothing. If you have goals and you take action, you will have anything you want.”     THOMAS J. VILORD

“Someday is not a day of the week.”    JANET DAILEY

Why Do People Procrastinate?

  1. Fear of failure is the #1 reason. If we were assured of a good result and lots of praise for every task we complete, it would be a "wonderful world".
  2. Failure to plan. If there is no "to-do-list" and no prioritization, there is no joy and satisfaction in checking off a task completed because there is no list.
  3. The goal may be unreasonable. It is natural not too want to fail. An unattainable goal is a clear deterrent.
  4. The task is difficult or unpleasant. Examples are a strenuous gym workout or firing a likeable, yet incompetent employee.
  5. They succumb to interruptions and distractions (text messages, emails, phone, TV). Try keeping track of every interruption in a single day. You may be surprised.

Some people tend to rationalize their reasons for procrastinating. They are quite creative. They may say I work better when there is a deadline or when I'm busy or when I'm absolutely forced to do something. That may not be the real reason, but they profess it anyways. The real reasons are listed above.

“Procrastination is my sin. It brings me naught but sorrow. I know that I should stop it. In fact, I will--tomorrow”    GLORIA PITZER

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”    PABLO PICASSO

The Results of Procrastination!

Those who procrastinate rarely experience the joy of doing a job well and finishing it ahead of schedule. Road crews that build highways and bridges receive huge monetary rewards for completing their work ahead of schedule. For them and you, procrastination can be expensive.

Because "stuff happens" and setbacks do occur, not allowing extra time to insure completion on time can result in not meeting a deadline. Efficiency does not require one to be under pressure continuously to get a job done. In fact, it is believed that most athletes perform better when they are relaxed and free of pressure. I suspect most non-athletes do the same.

How to Stop Procrastination - Overcome the "I'll Do It Later" Syndrome!

  • Get organized. Make a logical and realistic "to-do-list" for your morning and a separate list for the afternoon. No item on your list should last more than one-half hour. Longer tasks must be divided in half-hour tasks. If it is truly realistic, you may finish all of the morning tasks and be able to start on the afternoon's list.
  • Prioritize the list by writing a #1 next to the first item, #2 next to the second task, and so on. Do not violate your prioritization. Schedule a more challenging task first each morning and afternoon. Focus solely on item #1 until it is completed.
  • Realize that you are in charge of interruptions. Schedule a time to check emails and return phone calls.
  • Schedule a five minute break every hour. If you are at a desk, be sure to get up and move around.

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an unfulfilled goal." WILLIAM JAMES

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”    ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Tell Me a Story and I Will Remember!  

Motivational speakers are usually very good storytellers. I remember one speaker asking the audience to picture themselves on a busy city street with lights to control traffic on every corner. He asked us if we would proceed when the first light turned green or would we wait until all the lights that we could see were green?

Another speaker was describing the typical layout of a shopping mall. She said the planners could have made narrow hallways with doors to each store. She asked us to picture such a hallway that is about 1/4 mile long. As we all know the malls hide the distance from one end to the other with kiosks and open doors and side hallways.

In both of the above examples, the speakers were providing the advantages of dividing tasks into smaller tasks to encourage us proceed to the next step. That "divide and conquer" approach will also teach us how to stop procrastination.

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