Stop Procrastination

Procrastination is a habit and a mental attitude.  To break the habit we must confront the non-productive attitudes that we entertain and take action to start the project in spite of them.  People often use several well-known excuses to procrastinate.  These time worn reasons include not having enough time or the right work space or tools to attempt the job.  Procrastinators build a framework of ideal conditions that should be met before work can begin.  The first step in stopping procrastination is to confront the elements of this structure and dismantle them.

One favorite misconception procrastinators entertain about themselves is that they put things off until the last minute because they work well under pressure.   If this is really true, create pressure for yourself.  Set an arbitrary deadline and meet it, or suffer the consequences. If you have all day to complete a task but a date to meet a friend at the gym at noon, make yourself finish the task before the appointment, with the consequence that you will have to forego the gym if you do not finish.  Under this pressure, you are certain to get something done.  The point it, set your own deadlines and meet them.

Another favorite form of procrastination is to demand an ideal workplace before starting the job.  Confront this head-on as a self-deceptive ploy to postpone.  Nearly everything but brain surgery can be accomplished in a messy environment.  Actually, emergency medics perform this on location, so you should be able to work with some clutter.  Promise yourself that you will make the perfect office after you finish your taxes, clear away enough clutter to use the desk and get started.

People often procrastinate by telling themselves that they do not have enough time on this particular day to finish the project.  Take this for what it is, an excuse to put things off.  The project does not have to be completed in one day, it has to be started.  Most things that can be completed in eight hours can also be done in 8 one-hour segments.  It may not be ideal or as efficient, but the main tool in fighting procrastination is to learn to stop looking for the ideal.  As you lay this to rest and build better work habits, your efficiency will improve.

Often we postpone a project because we feel that we need more information.  Unless you are a complete novice on the issues involved, you can start by outlining what you do know and listing what you need to learn.  If you need to replant the flower bed but don’t know what plants thrive in your area, you can clear away the debris and prepare the soil prior to sitting down with flower brochures and browsing.

Finally, to stop procrastination you must cope with needs for perfection.  If cannot begin painting a portrait of your son because you don’t see a perfect result, put a draft outline on the canvas.  You can paint over a background and make corrections later.  Don’t anticipate the final product before you begin, a favorite route of procrastinators.  Start with a general idea and work to refine it.

Regardless of the type of project, procrastination is fed by the excuses we make for not taking action.  Procrastination is stopped when we begin to argue with these excuses and eliminate them.

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