Overcoming Procrastination

All of us at one time or another tend to procrastinate or delay doing things that we know have to get done. Here are some suggestions to avoid putting things off.

The first goal in overcoming procrastination is NOT to complete the project, but to GET STARTED working on it. People should reward themselves for this first success. The second victory is to complete the task or project.

Here are some strategies for conquering procrastination:

1. Leading task. Take the first step. Get a binder or a folder and label it as your Marketing Plan. List what you plan to do and start collecting the information. Once this first step is taken, continuing is much easier.

2. Break it up into smaller pieces. This is often called the sliced salami or Swiss cheese technique. Tasks and projects can be broken up by functions or time periods. Once the project is in smaller pieces, the feeling of being overwhelmed goes away. The work can then be done over a period of time and as each piece is completed, there is a sense of accomplishment. Also, the work does not have to be done in any set sequence. Easier parts can be done first to develop momentum. (This is my most effective way to write long reports, business plans and proposals.)

3. Five-minute plan. Work on an unpleasant task for five minutes and quit. Often you will develop the momentum and find it easier to continue until completion.

4. Worst first. Tackling an unpleasant task first thing in the morning gets it out of the way, and makes you feel great and motivated for the rest of the day. If you delay it, you will waste a lot of time thinking about it and not paying attention to what you are doing.

5. Going public. Tell whoever will listen what you plan to do. This perceived external pressure will encourage you to start and complete a task or project because you told everyone you would do so.

6. Balance sheet. Take a sheet of paper and on one side list all the reasons for procrastinating. On the other side, list the reasons for starting the project. The reasons for starting are often greater than delaying.

I also find it very useful to keep a “To do” list. Be sure to prioritize your tasks and projects and do the most important ones first. Update your list every morning by removing tasks that have been completed, and adding in new ones that have to be done.