Overcoming the Plight of Procrastination

Tracy Brinkmann

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Quicker and quicker things are being accomplished in today’s world. Computers, PDAs, cell phones, and many more marvels of modern technology have enabled us to accomplish more in less time then we could have imagined a mere 10-15 years ago. With all this ability to get things done at our fingertips, why do so many put off their responsibilities and even their dreams? Why do they put off accomplishing tasks that would launch their careers, their relationship, or their self-esteem to new heights? Why do they continue to endure the pain of wondering “What if?" Let us spend a few minutes answering those questions, as well as sharing some steps, you can take to avoid becoming (or remaining) at the mercy of the plight of procrastination.

Fear tops our list as we try to answer these questions. “The main reason people procrastinate is fear, " says Neil Fiore, Ph. D. , and author of The Now Habit. Many procrastinators fear they will not accomplish what they are setting out to do. They fear they do not have the necessary talent or the needed tools to complete the task. They fear they will look foolish or amateurish in the eyes of their peers. Most of them would prefer to be called lazy and be seen as lacking in effort. Rather than make consistent timely attempts, risk faltering in these attempts, and be seen as lacking in ability. For example – we all can name any number of students that would blame the failing of a mid-term on only studying the night prior to the test, rather than admit to themselves that they could have gotten help via a tutor or simply by applying their time to hitting the books more regularly and consistently during the semester.

Perfectionism also ranks high on the procrastination list. So many believe that they must create the perfect essay, the perfect presentation, or the perfect business model. In this push for perfection, they put off even getting started. Insecurity plays into this as well. Those that do their best because they have a true desire to win or to succeed tend not to procrastinate. However, those that think they must be perfect in order to gain acceptance, or to please those around them, often put off important tasks. This belief that you must do something perfectly from the onset will cause you stress. You will then associate stress to the task, and thus you will tend to avoid the task to avoid the stress. Eventually when there is not enough time to complete the task perfectly, you let yourself off the hook. For then you will be telling yourself, “If only I had enough time I would…"

Beliefs at times will also be the root cause of procrastination. Beliefs such as “I work better under pressure, " “I don’t have the knowledge (or skills) to accomplish this task, " or “this task is such a mammoth undertaking. Am I up to it?" all have the potential to cause procrastination. In addition, choice stealing thoughts/beliefs along the lines of “I must…" will push you to put off tasks as you will feel a bit of resentment at not having a choice. Take a moment and ask yourself what thoughts were keeping you from your task the last time you fell victim to the plight of procrastination?

Action is the first step to overcoming the plight of procrastination. While that may sound simple, those that have fallen victim to procrastination will attest, it is easier said than done. So let us take a look at some solutions the will empower you and help you fend off procrastination, allowing you to reach your goals in a timelier manner.

My first and most impassioned recommendation is to set goals. Real goal setting will do wonders for most every symptom that makes us sick with procrastination. Sitting down and seriously setting out your goals for your desires, your business, your career and even your family and social life will reap amazing results, if you follow through. Trust me when I say that follow through will become much easier with a real set of laid out goals for all areas of your life. So step one of overcoming the plight of procrastination if becoming a goal setter. For more information and some basic guidelines around goals setting, please review the article “Goal Setting 101. " This article is available via email: mailto:successarticle_9@sendfree.com. Use the goal setting process to address any/all of your fears as well. If your fears reside in the area of knowledge – then set goals to get the knowledge you seek. If time does not allow you to get the knowledge via conventional means – then find a resource that already has the needed knowledge and get it from them. You would be surprised how many people out there would love to share their hard-earned knowledge. I find most people are even flattered by the request.

Avoid “I must. . . " style statements. “I must, " and “I have to, " style assertions affect your outlook to a mood of not having a choice and you risk feeling resentment. Your control over your life really starts with what you think on a regular basis. It’s like the saying goes, “You are not what you think you are. But, what you think, YOU ARE. " You must recognize that you do have a choice. This realization will enable you to move from “I must, " to “I want to!" Do not get me wrong I know there are situations where your choice does not seem to be yours, but if you think it through – the choice is ultimately yours. You do not HAVE to keep spending money to market your product – but that CHOICE not to market your product will seriously cramp the growth you want in your business revenue.

For all my perfectionist friends – allow yourself permission to do a 50% solution first. Your urge to do it 100% right on the first try will be your biggest challenge. During your goal setting process, I encourage you to make the “quick and dirty" solution one of your sub-goals. If your goal is cleaning the garage, then perhaps your quick and dirty solution can be – “Getting rid of all the trash. " Surly that does not constitute the 100% solution of a clean garage but it at least serves a stepping stone to the level of perfection your striving to achieve. If you break down your overall goal, in this case cleaning the garage, into smaller sub-goals; get out all the trash, organize the garden tools, straighten the shelves, dust, sweep the floor, paint the walls, etc. Then your perfectionist urge can help – if you apply it to the smaller sub-goals appropriately in order to accomplish the overall goal of cleaning the garage. You have to remember you are only human and the imperfect job completed today is far superior to the perfect job postponed indefinitely. You can always revise it and make it better – once it is started.

The last tip I am going to leave you with is the quickest one you can put into action today: The 30-minute plan. Select a small piece of work that you can commit thirty minutes to. Next, choose a reward for yourself – one that you will claim once you have worked on this task for the allotted thirty minutes. No matter what you accomplish in the thirty minutes, the reward is yours – as long as you put in the time. The reward you choose is purely up to you and your preferences. For me rewards such as thirty minutes of game time on my favorite Xbox game are a motivating reward, or watching my favorite TV program etc. Your rewards must be meaningful to you. The idea is to shift your focus from the displeasure of doing the task to the pleasure of the reward. The idea here is that if the reward is worthy, then you will be able to endure the mere thirty minutes of real effort in order to reach it.

What will happen, most of the time, once you sit down to put in your thirty minutes, is that you will work forty-five, sixty, or more without giving it a second thought. You will actually get so involved in the task, even if it is a difficult one, that you will WANT to keep working on it. The next thing you know, one hour or more has passed and you have actually accomplished something. All the while, the reward you identified was there. Once those first thirty minutes went by you could have rightfully claimed it. However, what happened was that once you sat down and began working on your task your focus shifted. It moved from the worry and fret of the task to focusing on completing the current piece of work placed before you in this small thirty-minute window.

Once you decide to stop working, claim your reward (as long as you have put in your thirty minutes). Enjoy your reward you earned it! Then quickly schedule your next thirty-minute block of time and select the reward for that block as well. You will quickly begin to associate more pleasure to the task and its completion as you realize that your rewards will immediately follow your efforts.

Well you now have a few tactics for fighting the plight of procrastination. I would encourage you to go through the goal setting process outlined in the article “Goal Setting 101. " Then, combine those goals, sub-goals, and action tasks with the thirty-minute plan. With that, you will begin to move yourself quickly along the road towards reaching those goals one half hour at a time.

Think Successfully & Take Action!
Tracy Brinkmann

http://www.SuccessAtlas.com Tracy Brinkmann is an goal setting and success counselor. Through his company Success Atlas, he provides goal-setting, motivational & educational material, & training via live presentations as well as digital/audio products. Sign up for his free e-Zine http://www.SuccessAtlas.com


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