People procrastinate because of fear. But fear of what? Success? Failure? Judgment? The unknown? Responsibility? Wait…responsibility?
It has been said that procrastinators deny reality, refusing to accept responsibility for their lives. To defeat procrastination, we must stop playing games with ourselves. We cannot overcome procrastination until we accept the fact that we are responsible for what we make of our lives. That may be more honesty than many people are capable of, but there is no other way to achieve a richer, more responsible life.
The first step toward overcoming procrastination is recognizing that it is a problem. For many procrastinators, most of their problems are caused by procrastination. All procrastinators share certain traits:
- They know what they should do about a problem, and in many cases they know the specific action that needs to be taken. Yet they consistently find reasons to avoid taking that action.
- They are reluctant to do anything about a problem right now, but vow to take action at some vague time in the future.
- They promise to take action when the "right" circumstances present themselves. By making performance of the job dependent on something else, they justify their decision to delay action.
Research shows that you can develop new habits in just two weeks, provided you are serious about changing. To start developing a new habit and rid yourself of procrastination, think about people you know who always get things done well and on time. What are their work habits? How do they approach unappealing tasks? How do they stay focused? Below are two simple tips that can help you take charge of your life today.
First, mentally prepare yourself to be productive. I begin every day in prayer and meditation. I keep inspirational messages where I can see them. Then I visualize my success throughout the day. Procrastination is a real monster, and it will not go away unless we do something about it every day. If I am passionate about a job, I can get it done at any time of day and under any circumstances – the problem is when to tackle the hardest and most tedious jobs. Always ask: At what time of day am I most productive? Most people say they're most productive early in the morning; by mid-afternoon it's harder for them to sit still and concentrate on work. Try to schedule your hardest jobs during your most productive time.
Second, do not over-socialize at work. Office chitchat and gossip keep many people from getting more work accomplished. Let people know when you do not want to be disturbed. Think about the things in your work environment that contribute to staying focused. What things distract you or make you want to postpone a job? How can you redesign your environment to eliminate causes of procrastination?
We are not victims of our circumstances. You can overcome procrastination now – you can do the things that need to be done. And you can learn to distinguish between the things that need to be done now and the things that can wait. Your future self and your friends will thank you.