8 Tips To Kill Your Procrastinating Ways

13. February 2008 Self Help 10

I will do that tomorrow.  Like always.I have tried really hard in the past year to become a do-er… instead of a procrastinator.  Procrastination is something that has haunted me for years and years and I have… you guessed it, put off fixing the problem for far to long.  However, now with goals set and after admitting that I have a problem (isn’t that the first step?), I am putting forth the effort to fix the problem. 

In this posting you will learn the 8 Tips to Kill Your Procrastinating Ways, these may not work for everyone – but they can at least help you on your journey to becoming a Do-er… instead of a Procrastinator.

1.  Start With The Small Things

You probably have heard – “don’t sweat the small stuff” or “it’s the little things that count” and every other cliché that comes to mind.  Let us start a new one.  Start with the small things.  If you plan on changing anything in your life bigger than your underwear, then you have to start small.  The main reason is the fact that you will likely abandon those things that are too far out of your comfort zone.  Usually in an act of resentment, your mind will not only abandon those things – but also make them slightly worse than when you started.

By starting small you are taking a few strides in the right direction to begin with.  If that means picking up your clothes and putting them in the hamper each day, or shipping that package – something relatively easy, but done sooner than later.  Before you know it, it will grow into more of a habit than a chore.  Then you will be moving on to bigger tasks to tackle. 

2.  Plan Your Daily Doings A Day In Advance

Far too often we do not take time to give the day to come a bit of a schedule.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about planning out your bathroom duties at 10, 2 & 4 and at what minute you will leave the house.  I do not want to see your day planned out like a court’s docket, but setting aside some time to clean your car or do that grocery shopping you have been putting off.

All of us have time one time of the day that is vacant (of course some more than others) from work, school or FILL IN THE BLANK.  Utilizing your time while it is vacant from worry is the part you must work at to perfect.  Imagine that hour you have between work and taking the kids to soccer/football/basketball/choir/band/swimming/dance practice and how you would rather sit and stare at a TV, sit on the computer or stare at the wall.  Imagine planning on spending half of that time (remember tip #1) talking to the phone company, trimming that tree, getting that tux fitted or whatever your favorite piece of put-off material.  Planning a day in advance will get you ready to conquer your procrastination – and be sure to think positive about it all day, dreading it will only make that time worse!

3.  Consolidate Your Tasks If Possible

It worked for your debt, why not try it out to get some things done around the house.  How many times do you really have a full day to get everything done in your life for the week?  Hardly.  More than likely you are trying to get everything done throughout the week in 10 min, 22 min, 45 min, 8 min and 4 min. segments.  That is hardly enough time continuously to make a huge dent right?  Wrong. 

Making the best of your time is vital if you plan on crushing your procrastinating ways.  Taking the small amount of time and doubling the things you get accomplished in it will create more time in the long run to knock out even more tasks.  Think about cleaning your house.  If you start a load of laundry, empty & refill the dishwasher and sweep in the middle of it all – you just made a huge dent in your tasks.   To the same effect – if you are running errands and you are taking dry cleaning near the place you need to take a shoe to be repaired or a dress hemmed, make it happen captain.  You just killed two birds with one stone.  Consolidate your tasks by grouping things together and planning them out the day before (wait, haven’t we talked about this already…) – so you are sure to get things done.

4.  Set Doable Goals

As with most goals, if you are setting goals that are too far from attainable, you are likely to fail in completing them.  Setting goals that are reachable is valuable to conquering your problem with procrastination.  So how do you do this?  Well think about the best possible outcome – done at the most optimal level.  Now drop that back about 2 notches.  Imagine you are trying to redo your entire backyard with landscaping, new grass, gazebo and everything else your wife can dream up… including the pond. 😉  Now this is a huge undertaking, so perhaps setting the goal as “making the backyard more functional is a better goal.

Instead of having a yard that rivals that of Hugh Hefner, you are merely saying that by summer’s end you would like to be able to have a party there – without people wondering if a bomb had just went off the night before.  That is more doable than hoping to have a slide coming off the roof into a 10 ft. pool and a swim-up bar with Koi, right?  Setting attainable goals is very important if you plan on getting your “do it tomorrow” state of mind kicked to the curb.

5.  Break Up Your Tasks

Let us use the backyard as our example for this one as well.  So your wife wants the pond with live fish, a swimming pool, a gazebo, walk-through garden and a fenced in sitting area by Summer’s end – how in the world can you accomplish that?  Break it up.  So instead of seeing it all as one HUGE task (which it is), you need to see it as several small tasks (doable ones).  So task one could be fencing in the sitting area/patio.  Simple enough, yet big enough to make a difference and create a bit of momentum.  Next you could do a slightly bigger task like hiring a contractor to dig your swimming pool and get that taken care of.

Before long you have a few of the smaller (modulated) tasks taken care of and you can see that the HUGE task of overhauling the backyard is now attainable.  So tackling the rest in small chunks can continue the momentum and allow for you to see an end point for each task, instead of the speeding train at the end of the tunnel about to run you over.  Let us call that train Procrastination.  I am sure it has run a few of us over time & time again.

6.  Take Time From Your Vices

Everyone has one.  TV.  Internet.  Cigarettes.  Soupin’ up your car.  Working out.   Whatever keeps you from doing others things or is your fall back “excuse” for putting everything off… is your vice.  Now some of you are saying…

“How can working out be a vice?” 

Well no, working out is not a vice if it is done in ration and does not keep you from doing your normal duties of life.  Think about those that have to work out 3 hours a day or take one more Pilates class in the afternoon instead of finishing that continuing education class that has to be done in 3 months.  Or that person that would rather hit the gym than go get their oil changed prior to the magic 3000 mile mark.  Now their vice is keeping them “excusing” everything until the last minute.

So if TV or your addiction to the internet is keeping you from washing your car or getting your housework done – take some time away from it in order to get everything done.  Does this mean leave it completely?  No.  Small changes remember (refer to #1 if you have already forgot)?  Take half of that time and use it wisely – you will be surprised what you can get done.

7.  Make A List

There is a reason we were taught to make lists long ago.  They work.  You make grocery lists in order to ensure you get everything you need from the store.  When you get home, rarely do you make it home without your entire list – unless you don’t follow it closely.  So the same system can be used in everyday life.  Grab a piece of paper on Sunday night and jot down a few things you need to get accomplished this week (this is getting old… refer to #2 – come on, plan ahead).  Then stick to the list.

Having a script to follow, and mark off when you complete makes it like a game.  If you have a partner (wife/husband/friend/family member/roommate) in crime – you can come home and say…

“Mark #4 off the list, I signed the kids up for church camp.”

This creates a competition out of it all – which means more things get done.  If you do not have a person to help knock out the list with; having it all on paper gives you a sense of where you are at.  You can look at a list and say… “wow I did 10% of it today – that’s good.”  Keep your list up to date and make mini-lists to help manage day to day (of course you don’t have to write it down, it can be in your head).  Use lists to cross out your procrastination issues.

8.  Be A Finisher

How can you expect to get anything done, if you never finish what you start?  Some of us know exactly what I am talking about as they look around their house and see a half complete drywall job in the den.  Then in the next room is that nice crown molding that you never finished.  Ladies, how about that craft drawer that seems to continue to pile up with unfinished “crafts”?  Our busy lives have forced us to prioritize our daily doings and that leaves us with little time to wrap things up.

So here is the plan, instead of starting something else on top of another thing that has already been started – finish the first thing.  Pretty simple eh?  Not exactly.  As we go about our day, things shift, take the place of less important things and here we sit with 9 projects started and NONE finished.  The goal here is to never start anything that can not be started in a considerable amount of time.  What does that mean?  It means if you are going out of town for summer vacay next week, starting on the tile floor in your bathroom might be a better idea when you get back.  Or trimming that tree 2 hours before you have to be at a family function – should probably wait.  Sticking to your tasks and actually finishing them is a great way to end procrastination.  Remember, if it makes sense to put something off – in order for it to get finished… it is not procrastination.   It is common sense!


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