As published in the 1.11.12 issue of The Woodstock Independent
Procrastination can be a major problem in both your career and your personal life. Missed opportunities, resentment and guilt all come from the effects of “putting things off”.
Everyone procrastinate sometimes. Those that consistently avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions are true procrastinators. Most people procrastinate because they are stressed, overwhelmed, lack discipline or motivation or are just plain lazy. Some procrastinators say they perform better under pressure, but that’s just one of many excuses they tell themselves. Since procrastinators are made and not born, it’s possible to overcome procrastination—with a lot of effort.
To combat procrastination, try these helpful tips to keep yourself on track:
Start small. Attack smaller tasks of a large project one at a time instead of trying to get your arms around the entire thing. You will be better able to focus on that one task rather than thinking of the larger project all at once.
Seek advice. If you’re working on something that is out of your area of expertise, go to other professionals for information and advice. You’ll be amazed at how willing people are to share their knowledge with you. Your second option is to eliminate the task all together by hiring a professional to complete the work.
Ask yourself, “Why?” We often procrastinate because we don’t like to do specific tasks. Discovering why you don’t enjoy doing something helps you identify obstacles so you can move the task forward.
Chart your progress. Some respond better to visual stimulation. Physically checking off an item on your “to-do” list will keep you motivated.
Give up on perfection. The overtime you put into a project that only requires minimal time doesn’t automatically make it better. You can accomplish more with less if you remain focused.
Develop a reward program. One of the best ways to stop procrastinating is to reward yourself. Celebrate your small accomplishments on a larger project each step of the way.
Position yourself as a professional. Putting off procrastination can reward you in your career. You will be viewed as reliable and responsible.
Most of these tips will be challenging to implement, but they can be effective. Overcoming procrastination takes initiative and perseverance. The upside to tackling this problem is that it yields tremendous personal growth. You’ll become more disciplined, more driven and more focused-benefits that will become hugely significant over your lifetime. Although painful through the process, overcoming procrastination will have its many rewards.
Laura A. Witlox is the Communications Coordinator of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce and Proprietress of The Persistent Assistant and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.