No Time Like the Present

No matter what industry or business we may be in, success favors those who make the best use of their time.  Sometimes, the best use of that time involves us engaging in activities that we would rather not be a part of.  So, we adopt the mentality of having to face it “sooner or later” or waiting until the last moment to “get it over with”.  This describes the one thing we could all use a little less of:  procrastination.

 

Procrastination can rear its ugly head in many forms.  However, just to be clear, procrastination isn’t “laziness”.  Laziness involves not wanting to do anything.  Procrastination involves wanting to do anything but the specific task we are trying to avoid. 🙂

There are many guides to dealing with and overcoming procrastination.  They can be summed up in 3 steps:

  1. Recognize that fact that you are procrastinating.
  2. Determine why you are procrastinating
  3. Stop it!

 

Recognize It

Let’s start with having to recognize the fact that you’re procrastinating.  Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it’s not.  If you’re doing other things (or nothing) to avoid a task, then you know you are procrastinating.  If you’re doing things in preparation for or support of the task you want to complete, then the waters get a bit muddy.

There can be such a thing as “positive” procrastination.  That is, procrastination that enlightens you, energizes you, or fully prepares you for the task you are about to complete.  Think of it as taking a light jog before a writing assignment to get some fresh air and stimulate your thought process.   It could also mean surfing the net or perusing a magazine for a little inspiration.

Then, there’s the other side of the coin:  the “negative” procrastination.  Think of this as going to “happy hour” or playing an intense video game before engaging in the required task.  Unless the you’re writing about the party environment or doing “first-person shooter” research on the video game, you are probably not contributing to the completion of your task in a beneficial way!

 

 

Find out Why

I sometimes find myself procrastinating with tasks that I know will benefit me once completed.  Why?

Procrastination is not always about avoiding an unpleasant task; it can be about avoiding something else entirely.  Perhaps there is an underlying fear of failure.  Perhaps there is a fear of the success and the added responsibility that may come with it.  Perhaps there is a desire for perfection–a constant re-evaluation of how to accomplish the task the best way possible.

I tend to fall in the last category more often than not. 🙂  As entrepreneurs, we know that failure is just a stepping-stone to success.  We also know that the rewards of success usually outweigh any extra burden that comes along with it.

Once you have accepted the fact that you are procrastinating, and you have determined why you are procrastinating, then you can effectively deal with and/or eliminate the condition that is causing you to procrastinate.

 

Stop It

OK.  So, you know that you are procrastinating and you know why you are procrastinating.  How do you stop it?

The temptation is to play that video game a little longer or hangout at the bar scene for a few more minutes.  However, we must address the “why” stated previously; the actual activity we use as a means of procrastination is secondary to “why” we’re using it.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Break up a large task into smaller tasks and spread them across short breaks – You will feel the momentum build as each small task gets completed.
  • Reward yourself for each milestone completed in your task – You will feel that you deserve it after you put effort into it.
  • Talk yourself out of attending the “pity party” – Remember that you are ultimately responsible for addressing your situation.  You can control your choices, so use that power to take control of your situation.
  • Get external accountability – The “buddy system” can be useful.  Schedule time to have someone review your work.  It’s harder to justify procrastination when you’ve committed someone else’s time!

Procrastination is a problem that can be addressed over time.  It’s similar to developing a new habit.  Spending about a month on a new routine or new approach to an activity will help instill that routine into your personal behavior.

You can implement certain practices over time that will help you to avoid most procrastination altogether.  This will help you to become as productive as you desire to be, or at least not waste as much time as you did before. 😉

Enjoy!

 



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