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How To Prevent Procrastination

Aug 17, 2007
We all have a tendency to put things off for various reasons and believe me, I've been the master of this one in the past. Understanding why you procrastinate helps you to do something about it.

How often have you made yourself 'busy' just because you're putting off doing something you're resisting? Well, here are few things you can do to prevent procrastination.

When you put off a task it can start to develop almost ogre-like proportions before we'll get round to doing it. The longer you leave it, the harder it becomes. Usually by that time, it's become urgent or critical rather than just important.

What is the benefit of your procrastination?
What is the pay-off you get from putting something off?

It may be the easier route in the short-term but what is the long-term impact? When does procrastination have consequences on your pocket, health or emotional well-being?

If you leave it too long, the task gets to the point where it can no longer be ignored and demands your attention. Now you have to get it done - which somehow, you now find the time or inclination to do, so what was stopping you in the first place?

When the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it, resistance will magically disappear and more often than not we find that it wasn't so bad as we thought after all.

To help reduce procrastination, try breaking a larger task down into smaller tasks, so it doesn't seem quite so onerous. For instance, if you need to write a report that you think is going to take days to write - take five minutes just to get a few ideas on paper. Next time - add a bit more, refine it, add a bit more content. Schedule time to come back to it later either in a few hours or the next day or later in the week and complete a bit more. Once you get started it's surprising how much easier it can be to keep going.

The easiest way I have found to tackle many things is by spending just 5 or 10 minutes on a task. You'll increase your productivity when you give yourself a time limit and it's less daunting than needing to spend an hour or more on it and less excuse to procrastinate.

Putting off that pile of filing? Spend 10 minutes tackling the top of the pile or start to reduce the pile by sorting out all the papers that go into the same file or relate to the same subject. Repeat this at regular intervals throughout the day or set aside 10 minutes at the beginning or end of every day to do a little bit more or to keep on top of it.

Just do it! Putting something off like a phone call or an email? Instead of saying to yourself, ' I'll do it in a minute, or I'll do it later ... do it now. Just go for it and get it out of the way and then you can move on and stop worrying. I find this technique works really well. Catch yourself putting something off and just do it.

Sometimes we put things off because something doesn't 'feel right'. How many times have you had a decision to make or something that needs doing and by delaying the need disappears? That's not an excuse to procrastinate, just an indication to look at where the resistance is coming from and why.

When you procrastinate, what are you resisting? The more you resist the harder it becomes, so assuming the task is worthy of your attention in the first place, take action sooner rather than later.

If it's worth doing - do it now! If it's not, then just let it go and stop worrying about it.
About the Author
Clare Evans works with busy, stressed individuals and small business owners to help them plan and organise their time more effectively. Contact her now for more details and a free consultation. http://www.clareevans.co.uk
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