Declaring War On Procrastination

Reflect on the past year and think of the things you didn't accomplish. Chances are procrastination was the enemy in keeping you from undertaking some project or adventure that is important to you. The question is WHY? Why is it that you procrastinate on certain tasks but not others? Take a moment and make a list of the types of things you typically put off until later.

The bigger elephant in the room may be what can you do to prevent procrastination from limiting your professional and personal success. Here's my take on the excuses we give related to procrastination, and how to combat them before they attack your goals and dreams:

  • The rewards are too far into the future. When this is the case, create a smaller reward that can be taken in the short term. If your goal is to run 3 miles, plan to call a friend who is a runner when you can go 1 mile without walking. As someone who has been there, I'll certainly celebrate the moment with you. As described in the book, Switch, celebrate inch pebbles and not just milestones.
  • I won't be successful at the task. Give yourself a break. Any worthy accomplishment requires failure in the process. Reach way back in your history... were you successful the first time you rode a bike, danced to a song, or even drove a car? Give yourself time to learn the new behavior, and celebrate (see above) when you make progress.
  • I get lost in the process. Set deadlines to accomplish individual steps. When I was looking at choosing an MBA program, I set a deadline 4 weeks out to contact 3 people about their graduate school experience. With that step accomplished I set another deadline for identifying 3 or 4 potential institutions for my post graduate work.
  • I don't know how to get started. This one is too easy. Sites like Wikihow and About.com give a plethora of possible ways to get started with everything from basket weaving to starting your own business. Or you can simply Google your new area of interest or skill development.
  • I always start things but rarely finish them. This reason usually results from one of the reasons mentioned earlier. You can also try having others keep you accountable. Tell key people about your new adventure, and encourage them to ask you about your progress and failures so they can celebrate (or console) you when needed.

It's time to stop procrastination from causing you to delay pursuing what is most important to you in your work and life. You may have lost the battle, but you can still win the war.