A Procrastinator’s Guide to Becoming More Punctual

Roughly estimated, 20 percent of people consider themselves to be chronic procrastinators while many more put things off on occasion. Is procrastination getting in between you and your life goals?  Well, why not try these suggestions for getting things done with less delay.

Understanding Why You Procrastinate 

  1. Spot perfectionism. Most of the time, procrastination and perfectionism go hand in hand. You may be setting your standards so high that they intimidate you from doing your best. Are you avoiding important tasks because you’re anxious about how well you’ll perform? Think!
  2. Make up your mind. Is it possible that you procrastinate because you find it challenging to make decisions?  Do you keep developing more options and telling yourself that you’re doing background research rather than buckling down to more concrete work? Think!
  3. Analyze your feelings about the last-minute rush. Maybe you’ve become accustomed to the euphoria you feel when working under pressure. You may need to find more productive ways to motivate and reward yourself.

Changing Your Thinking 

  1. Examine the consequences of immediate gratification. More often, impulse control lies at the heart of chronic procrastination. Try asking yourself which activities will contribute more to your wellbeing over the long term. For example, is it more enjoyable to watch several episodes of your favorite TV show back to back instead of spending more time studying?
  2. Drop the dread. Worrying about a project can often be more unpleasant than just doing it. Try adopting a neutral state of mind when you start listing all the reasons why you put off a project.  An example is doing your taxes. You may be pleasantly surprised at how effectively you can reduce the stress you place on yourself.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. Take charge of your life by acknowledging your own abilities and making a commitment to exert your best efforts to the things you care about. Begin today on your resolution to exercise daily instead of waiting for some hypothetical time when you’ll feel more energetic.

Developing New Habits 

  1. Schedule your time realistically. Take an inventory of how you presently use your time. Calculate how long you actually complete your typical errands.  Compare it to the overly optimistic scenarios that keep putting you behind schedule.
  2. Minimize distractions. If surfing on the web and checking emails are eating up your time, vow to put those distractions out of reach temporarily. You will see how much more you can accomplish when you focus only on the task at hand.
  3. Manage interruptions. Some interruptions are unavoidable. Remain flexible so you can return to work quickly rather than letting a five-minute phone call turn into a wasted afternoon.
  4. Break tasks down into manageable chunks. Set intermediate deadlines for yourself. If your final proposal is due in a month, allot time for each section, editing, and proofreading.
  5. Practice with small endeavors. You can turn almost anything into an opportunity to reinforce your new habits. Example: Wipe down the kitchen counters immediately rather than saving up all of your cleaning for the weekend.
  6. Reward your progress. You might procrastinate because it gives you time to on things you enjoy more than the things you’re trying to avoid. When you do your grocery shopping before work rather than sleeping for another hour, pay yourself back by serving up your favorite dish for dinner.
  7. Expect setbacks. It is inevitable to experience some backsliding sometimes. Look for the temptations that pull you off course and develop strategies to conquer them. If you feel lethargic after dinner, schedule your most difficult work early in the morning when you’re more alert.

Overcoming a tendency to procrastinate will help you achieve more and feel better about yourself. By overcoming procrastination, you can devote your energies to meaningful activities instead of trying to avoid them.  As a result, you’ll enjoy more peace of mind and have a richer life.

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