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How to Overcome Procrastination

by Dieter Pauwels November 5, 2008

We all procrastinate. It’s a problem we all face.

Actually we often spend more energy putting off a task than it takes to do it. In many ways we end up paying twice, once with all the energy avoiding what we know we must do and then, finally, once we actually do it.
It’s amazing that we can grow up, make it to adulthood, learn how to walk, read, write, and drive… but we can’t get ourselves to do things that we know are in our own best interest.
One of the most important things you need to do is, ironically, admit to yourself that you’re procrastinating and can’t make yourself do what you want to do!
Follow these 5 steps to turn procrastination into perseverance.

1) Write down all the things you are procrastinating about. Prioritize your list in order of importance and urgency. To help you prioritize your list, ask yourself the following three important questions.

  • What will it cost me in terms of time, (emotional) energy or even money if I keep putting things off?
  • What are the benefits of getting the job done?
  • How will waiting serve or benefit me?

Sometimes there could be a positive reason for you to put something off. Perhaps if you wait long enough, the circumstances might change and you may no longer need to take this action. Or perhaps you might get an important piece of information that could change your course of action.

Can you come up with any valid reasons for putting things off or are they merely excuses?

2) Create a timeline to get things done.  Set target dates and create time in your schedule. What will be a realistic assessment of the time it will take? Is there someone you could delegate this task to?

3) Accountability can be a good way to deal with procrastination. Work with a friend, a colleague or a personal life coach to keep you accountable.

4) Take action. What is a first things you can do right now that will move you forward?

Break the task down into smaller pieces and commit yourself to doing whatever it is you are procrastinating about for only 5 minutes at the time. This will help you build the habit of getting things started. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in only a few minutes.

5) Take time to celebrate. Once a task or project is completed, reward yourself. This will give you a sense of achievement and reinforce the feeling of accomplishment so that next time you find yourself procrastinating, you will remember how good it feels just to do it.

For more practical tools to overcome procrastination, you can visit the personal development blog of Steve Pavlina.

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