Why Do I Procrastinate? 13 Tips To Overcome This Nasty Habit
Procrastination is a terrible habit. Not just because of the time we lose every time we put off something that can and should be done now, but because of the financial loss that can occur as well. You see, procrastination comes down to not taking the time to accomplish now that which we can put off till later. The problem is the age-old adage "time is money" is absolutely true. The longer we put something off, the less we are likely to get done in the meantime, and this, ultimately, leads to a loss of potential money. Here are thirteen tips for analyzing and then overcoming procrastination.
Tip 1 - Everything starts and ends with you
If someone tells you that you are a procrastinator, the first reaction most people have is to blame someone else. "It was their fault," "My mom was like that too," "I didn't want to do it anyway." Blaming others is easy, but the truth is you are equally to blame. You procrastinate because you choose to. No one else makes that decision for you. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can fix it.
Tip 2 - I want to NOT procrastinate anymore
Along the lines of the first tip, once you accept that procrastination is a weakness, you need to take steps to eliminate that weakness. Your desire should be sincere and you should demonstrate that sincerity in how you handle everyday things.
Tip 3 - Take responsibility
Now that you have admitted your problem and expressed your desire to change, the next step is to admit that if you fail to accomplish a goal, your procrastination is to blame. Admitting guilt is a huge step. Just make sure you simply admit your responsibility for the consequences and are not punishing yourself for it. Being too hard on yourself does you no good.
Tip 4 - In what ways do I procrastinate?
Ask yourself what are the different ways you procrastinate. Get out a pen and a piece of paper and write them down. Some examples include:
- not paying bills right away
- postponing a doctor's or dentist's appointment
- not calling your kid's teacher back because you know what the problem is and you are tired of trying to deal with it.
- not talking to your spouse when you feel they are ignoring you
- not running those errands you wanted to get done
- not having that funny noise your car is making checked out
- not visiting a loved one in the hospital
Tip 5 - Goals not met because of procrastination
After listing the ways you procrastinate, make a second list of the goals you have failed to accomplish because of procrastination. First example, let's say that you failed to meet the deadline of an important project at work. The day the project is due, you go into your boss's office and tell him/her that your kid was sick and you couldn't focus. Even if the excuse is accepted, you know that you have taken another step back from your goal of a promotion. For another example, what if you forgot to let your boss know about a friend/co-worker who would be perfect of an available promotion. Because your boss didn't know about them, the promotion went to someone less deserving and your friend ended up taking a better position at another company.
Tip 6 - What is the dollar value of the missed opportunity?
Look at the amount of money you lost because you procrastinated. First, you failed to get a promotion. This could mean the loss of several thousand dollars a year, and possibly more vacation time to spend with your family. All because you didn't take the time to focus on one little project. Secondly, if your friend leaves the company, you lose a strong advocate at your current job who could have helped you to move your way up the corporate ladder. That is yet another important financial loss just because you couldn't take five minutes to talk to your boss.
Tip 7 - What kind of information do you need in a hurry?
Most of us spend a lot of our lives on the phone. We spend even more time looking up names and numbers of places and people we need to call. Try taking three sheets of paper, labeling them kitchen, bedroom, and living room, and putting the important numbers on them. Kitchen can have numbers for the supermarket, bakery, butcher, and food delivery places. Bedroom can have dry cleaner's, doctors, dentists, walk-in clinic, shoe repair, alteration shop, and department store. And the living room could have professional cleaners, plant shop, local home center, florist, bookstore, eyeglasses, and even the airport. If the paper thing just isn't for you, just use the memory feature on your phone.
Tip 8 - Filtering the essential from the petty
Procrastination is the opposite of action. When you decide what tasks need immediate attention and which ones can be put off till later in the week, you have learned the fine art of prioritizing. So decide, once and for all, which take top priority and act.
Tip 9 - Black and white is better than dreaming in color
That's just a way of saying that writing something down is better than just thinking about how to avoid procrastination. Here's the reason: when you write something down, it focuses you on what needs to be done. For some reason, we just remember things better and focus on them more when we write it down. Focus on whatever it is you write down, no matter how small, and then you will have a sense of accomplishment when you have completed it. You then move on to the next task and so on until doing things becomes the habit instead of procrastination.
Tip 10 - Discard old habits
Everyone is a creature of habit. Even if the old way has become ineffective, we just keep doing it because we believe it is easier than thinking of another way. It is always good to have an alternative thought out because traffic tends to slow down just when we are in the biggest hurry.
Tip 11 - It's mantra time again
Once in a while, life throws you a curveball. Things happen, and your plan goes off the rails. Try not to let it get to you. Every morning you can recite a simple mantra to help. "I will not procrastinate today. It is unproductive. I have things to do, and I will write them down so that I can decide which ones need to be done first. I will try to get two large and two small tasks done today."
Tip 12 - Have a second mantra for after you accomplish something.
"I completed my task. I focused well and did not allow myself to procrastinate. This translates to about 0 that I can take to the bank." Try really hard to assign a dollar amount to whatever you accomplished. This will reinforce the notion that time is money, and makes it easier for you to think that way in the future. Time can always be expressed as a profit or a loss. Which way it goes is entirely up to you.
Tip 13 - If you fall back a few steps, climb back up the stairs
If you are a chronic procrastinator, you will have trouble staying on course for a while. Old habits die hard, that's just the way it is. So, if you procrastinated too much yesterday, no big deal. Don't dwell on it. Start climbing back up the stairs today, and don't look back once you hit the top.