“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.”
If someone tried to convince you that you were a procrastinator, most likely your immediate reaction would be to defend yourself. “It’s his fault”, “My mother was like that too”, “I was forced to do something I didn’t want to do”. Some people get stuck blaming blame their misfortunes on others, and can never see beyond that. But the truth is, you are equally at fault. You procrastinate because you yourself choose to procrastinate. The sooner you accept that, the better you will be able to overcome procrastination.
# 1 Everything starts and ends with the self
In line with tip # 1 above, once you accept that procrastination is your weakness, the next step is to eliminate this weakness. Your desire not to procrastinate anymore should be sincere. You need to demonstrate that determination through small daily gestures.
# 2 I want NOT to procrastinate anymore
You’ve accepted the fact that (a) you’re a procrastinator, and (b) you have a sincere desire to change. Now tell yourself that if you fail to achieve a particular goal or a given task, it’s because you procrastinated. Mea culpa. Admitting guilt is a giant step. Note, however, that there is a huge difference between admitting guilt and being too hard on yourself. Admitting guilt is taking ownership of your actions. Being too hard on yourself is unjustified self-blame. Continue from where you left off.
# 3 Mea Culpa – Take Responsibility
Ask yourself, “In what ways do I procrastinate?” Sit down with pen and paper. Writing them will help you focus and identify them more clearly. Here are some ways where people procrastinate:
- paying bills
- not discussing the complaints you’ve received about a member of your team for fear of hurting his/her feelings
- repeatedly postponing a dental appointment because you’ve got better things to do
- not returning the call of your son’s teacher because you know what the problem is and you’re fed up
- not discussing your resentment about your husband spending too much time at work or with his buddies
- not getting that hair cut, that dress dry-cleaned, that donation mailed
- not visiting a sick relative in the hospital
- not telling your significant other you no longer love her/him
- not calling your doctor about that persistent numbness in your right arm or not fixing a colonoscopy exam date
- not having the car’s squeaking brakes checked
- not going to confession because you never know what the priest’s schedule is
- not sending that overdue thank you note or making that overdue call to your mother-in-law
# 4 Be honest. Ask yourself, “In what ways do I procrastinate?”
After listing the ways in which you procrastinate, make a second list of goals that you failed to achieve because you procrastinated. Let’s take a look at two typical examples.
First example: You promised your editor you’d get that article done by a certain due date. On the day the article was due, the editor calls you. You tell her sheepishly that you didn’t have time to do it, and you say something like, “My son was sick for days and I couldn’t concentrate” knowing full well your editor was generous with a deadline date.
Result? You took one step farther away from your goal of becoming a professional writer, and two steps farther away from developing a good relationship with an editor who picked you from the 25 writers who applied for the assignment. You can be sure your name has been taken off her address list.
Second example: You delayed lobbying for your colleague’s promotion even if he was the best man for the job. Result? The job went to someone less deserving; second, your colleague resigned to take up another offer.
When you measure the consequences of a missed opportunity because you procrastinated, ask yourself honestly if the consequence was worth the delay.
# 5 Review the goals that you have not met because of your procrastination
In fast-paced societies, people tend to think of time as precious and valuable. Expressions such as “time is of the essence,” “time means money,” “you missed the train”, “you missed a window of opportunity” reinforce the value of time.
When wheelers and dealers on the stock exchange take time off to whisper sweet nothings to their better half, those three minutes can mean hundreds, even thousands of dollars in missed transactions.
So, install a permanent calculator in your brain and calculate how much that missed deal meant in terms of dollar value. What’s the value of the examples we used?
The article you didn’t submit could have cost you $150.00.
Your colleague’s resignation from the company wiped off an important asset from your human resources ledger.
If you make it a practice to tagging a dollar sign to each of your procrastinations, you would probably resolve to procrastinate much less often.
# 6 Taking a cue from tips 4 and 5, “What is the dollar value of the opportunity you missed because of procrastination?”
We spend half our lives on the phone. We spend an equally big chunk of time looking for phone numbers and names. The directory is cumbersome. Putting them on your outlook means you have to re-boot your computer.
Try this: tear out sheets from your notepad and label each as kitchen, bedroom and living room.
Kitchen sheet: jot down the following telephone numbers:
- pastry shop
- utensil stores
- take out pizza and other delivery shops
- drug store
- Oriental grocery
- dry cleaner’s
- doctors and dentists
- walk-in clinic
- shoe repair shop
- alteration shop
- department store
- Catalog order stores, etc.
Living room sheet:
- professional house cleaners
- plant shop
- local home center
Or if you prefer to use your smart-phone, use its memory feature.
# 7 Get organized. Prioritize. What kind of information do you need in a hurry?
Procrastination is the opposite of action!