Overcoming Procrastination

Posted by Todd Smith

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We all procrastinate at some time or other—it’s part of being human. We frequently put off doing things that we know we should do for a multitude of reasons. In today’s lesson, you will learn why most people procrastinate and how to overcome procrastination and become a do-it-now person.

Why Become a Do-It-Now Person?

The most valuable benefits of being a person who performs responsibilities in a timely manner include an improved self-image and stronger self-confidence. In our careers, we will be more respected, produce at a higher level, and be offered opportunities for advancement. In our personal lives, we will enjoy more meaningful relationships, be a better example to our children, and find greater fulfillment in life.

On the other end of the spectrum, when you consistently put things off and fail to follow through with your responsibilities and commitments, the results can be devastating. Common effects include depression, guilt, poor productivity, social disapproval, unemployment, reduced wages, and low self-worth.

Procrastination is the deferment of tasks to a later time. Because of the simplicity of the definition, one might think the solution is also simple—to do what you know you should do even though you don’t feel like doing it. But, it’s not that easy for many people.

Common Causes of Procrastination

The first step in overcoming procrastination is to understand why you procrastinate. If you don’t understand something, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t change it.

Let’s take a look at some of the main causes of procrastination. Make a note of the ones you feel are at the root of your problem.

  • Feeling another time would be better. You believe that tomorrow you will be fresher and better prepared to do it.
  • Poor planning.  You underestimate how long something will take. This is a common problem when taking on unfamiliar projects and responsibilities.
  • Fearful of the outcome.  Your fear of rejection or disapproval, of failure or even success keeps you from tackling the job.
  • Feeling overburdened.  Discouragement, anxiety, and stress are results from feeling overwhelmed and out of control and can cause you to procrastinate.
  • Lack of confidence.  You have a low evaluation of yourself and your abilities; you avoid accepting/doing an assignment.
  • Poor concentration.  You find it difficult to stay focused on the job until it is complete.
  • Feeling uncomfortable.  You tend to put off activities that make you feel stretched beyond what you have done before. You prefer to stay in your comfort zone.
  • Inadequate motivation.  The outcome is not truly important to you so you’re not motivated to start the task.
  • Fulfilling your beliefs.  You believe you are a procrastinator so you live up to your expectations of yourself.

Methods for Overcoming Procrastination

Once you identify the cause of your procrastination, you then need to identify one or more solutions that will allow you to take control of your responsibilities and commitments and do them in a timely manner. Here are some solutions that will help all of us be more disciplined in doing what we should do.

  • Get clear on what’s important to you. Make sure the things you are pursuing are things that are deeply important to you. Then spend your time pursuing them and saying no to the things that aren’t important.
  • Believe you can. Refuse to believe anything negative about yourself or your abilities. You are an amazing creation. Adopt the attitude that you can do anything you put your mind to because you can.
  • Work from a prioritized daily to-do list One of the best ways to overcome procrastination is to get organized and start keeping a prioritized to-do list. After you complete your list, make a commitment to yourself that you will work the list in a priority sequence and not skip over any tasks.
  • Learn how to plan and organize projects. When you have a project that will require one or more hours of your time, block out time in your schedule to work on the project. This allows you to focus on your work without distractions.
  • Do the easy things. Start doing the easy things that will build your confidence, such as answering your email, taking out the overflowing garbage, and making the bed. As you build your confidence in doing the little things, you will feel more confident and motivated to do the bigger things.
  • Encourage yourself. When you push yourself to do something you know you should do but don’t feel like doing, congratulate yourself. Become your biggest fan.
  • Make a commitment to overcome procrastination. If you really want to win the procrastination battle to advance your life personally and professionally and improve how you view and feel about yourself, make the commitment that you will become a do-it-NOW person.

My Challenge

Print out this lesson and study it. Spend some quiet time thinking about why you procrastinate and what led to the problem. When you feel you are clear on your reasons, put into writing the steps you are committed to taking to overcome procrastination. Then push yourself harder than you have ever pushed yourself to do the things you know you should do when you should do them. It won’t be easy but, with focus and determination, you can do it.

Because procrastination can have devastating consequences, it’s to your advantage to take action today.  Don’t procrastinate conquering your procrastination.

Have you struggled with procrastination? What has helped you in winning the procrastination battle?  Please share your insights in the comment section below this post.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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