Monday, August 30, 2010

Procrastination is Best Left Till Tomorrow

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Do you procrastinate?

I have yet to meet someone whose answer is "No". Each of us suffers from it. You could be in fact doing it right now reading this article when you should actually be doing something else. No?

Let me ask you a straightforward question: "Why do you procrastinate?"

Your answer might be equally straightforward: "It can wait". Sometimes, you would even substantiate you answer by giving some reasons as to why that is so. However, the truthfulness of your reasons (or excuses) is best known to yourself.

Our problems with procrastination vary. From less bothersome ones such as not tidying up the backyard to more disturbing ones such as delaying medical treatment, we procrastinate on a wide range of things.

On a graver note, procrastination always rob us of the beauty of 'present'. We decide to postpone something we can do now and let something less important take its place:-

Tonight's workout at the gym can wait. That evening stroll with your loved one can wait. Your leisurely tea with a dear friend can wait. Spending a moment to reflect upon yourself can wait...

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It seems fair that you would want to cure the disease of procrastination, except that it is not a disease. Procrastination is actually a symptom rather than a disease and there are underlying reasons why it manifest in you. If those reasons are not diagnosed, the problem would not go away.

Some people look at procrastination as a 'time management' issue and attempt to overcome it with various time management tools. They soon realize that they are not going anywhere.

Time management is doing stuff in such a way where you get the best out of your time. Whereas, procrastination management deals more with understanding what holds you back and getting the obstacles out of the way.

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I have a few ideas for you to think about. Do not procrastinate. Read them and some might just work for you. Just like many other behaviors, procrastination is a habit which can be kicked:

1. You lack the right skill

This is the easiest one to handle. 

You naturally do not like to do something which you are not good at. For example, you dread doing electronic payment because you never know how to pay for something other than using cash. The thought of struggling with it on the computer puts you off.

The solution is really simple. You just have to ask someone who knows it and is willing to show you how. The good news is, if you bother to ask, many would bother to help.

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2. You do not see the end point

Sometimes we procrastinate because we do not see the point of doing something.

For example, your desk is in a mess and you wonder how clearing it would help you complete your long list of outstanding tasks. So you put it off for as long as you can and tell yourself that you would do it when you have some time. The day never come and your desk just gets messier.

What you need to do is to shift your focus to the end result rather than the process of clearing the desk. The end result is not just a clean desk but a more relieved and relaxed you. In turn, your feel-good factor will help you sort through the real tasks which you have to conquer. 

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3. You are not motivated

We are all machines fueled by motivation. Without it, we will drag our feet regardless of how much rest we get and how much food we eat.

The biggest problem with motivation is that most people believe it is owed to them. It is common to hear complaints about the lack of appreciation from parents, spouses, teachers, friends and bosses. People get upset because others are not coming forward to motivate them.

The sooner you get this in your head, the better off you will be: "Real motivation is self-motivation." The most effective way is to learn to constantly motivate yourself regardless of circumstances. See article "Get Your Daily Motivation".

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4. You fear something

When you are afraid of something, you would not want to deal with it. Your fear may not necessarily be obvious to you and you may need sometime to sort it out.

You have to face this in a hard and rational way. Tell yourself that what you fear will not go away and what you choose not to do can come back and haunt you. Examine your task and break it into smaller pieces. Start with the easiest one and gain sufficient confidence to deal with the next piece. Gather strength along the way until you see the end of it.

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There is no panacea to curing procrastination. The most practical way to deal with it is to face it. However, you can choose to start small and gradually scale it up.

Start thinking about the above pointers and face your procrastination problem. Deal with it and deal with it NOW.

Key Points:
  • Procrastination is a habit that you can kick
  • Ask for help and make your task less burdensome
  • Visualize the end point and focus on it
  • Motivation comes from you
  • Face your fear, not avoid it.

"Procrastination is something best put off until tomorrow."
~ Gerald Vaughan ~

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1 comment:

Inspirational Quotes said...

You...are...awesome! This blog is so great. I really hope more people read this and get what you're saying, because let me tell you, its important stuff.