Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination—an ineffective habit for many of us—comes from the Latin for “tomorrow” (cras).  Highly effective people tend to take care of whatever is in front of them promptly and not put it off. One payoff of diminishing the procrastinating habit is peace of mind. Another is easier accomplishments of tasks.  One ploy to defeat procrastination is to begin with the biggest, most difficult task on the to-do list.  As you work your way down the list, from most difficult to easiest, you will find perhaps to your amazement, that all of your chores are done.

One useful hint is to begin working on your first task in the morning, when your mind and your energy are fresh.  Plunge right in. Don’t give yourself time to bemoan all the things you must accomplish.

Next, develop habits of success:  Readjust habits to replace destructive ones with useful ones.  For example, if you have a habit spending an hour in the morning dealing with emails or scrolling facebook, and it’s now lunchtime, and you didn’t accomplish anything useful, you might either (1) postpone your email-reading marathon to late afternoon, say, or (2) develop the constructive discipline of scanning your inbox, and only dealing with the crucial messages– even if  you have to set an egg timer to stick to your 15-minute limit (or whatever).

According to Brian Tracy (see below), to form a new habit with focus and concentration, we need 3 qualities:

DECIDE…to develop a habit of task completion
DISCIPLINE…myself to practice timely action over and over
DETERMINE…to make this action a permanent part of your habits

Here’s an exercise to begin the process of creating the habit of timely accomplishment.

On a piece of paper, write down 1 goal, which you normally would tend to put off, and which you want to accomplish by a certain date. Pretend that the year has passed and that your goal has already been accomplished. Write in the first person singular and use the present tense.  Here are three examples:

I am driving a Mini Cooper today.

I am not eating sugar anymore.

I am happy in my new home.

For a list of 21 habits to introduce into your life, I recommend Brian Tracey’s book Eat That Frog 21 ways to stop procrastinating now  2017 (ingrain them in your daily living; practice them and watch new habits form).