featured_20180419_A3There’s an old proverb that says, “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”  While humorous, that sort of procrastination won’t get you very far in life.  If you’re a chronic procrastinator, then you’re likely familiar with the stress levels involved when two or three of those procrastinated tasks become due at the same time.

Do the days of procrastination make the days of extreme stress worthwhile?  In most cases, it’s far better to do tasks as they arrive rather than letting them pile up.  Here are some tips on how to beat procrastination and why you should.

Make a To Do List

You can use technology or use a good, old-fashioned To Do list on paper.  There are various phone apps and computer programs that will manage a To Do list for you, but for many, an old-fashion pen and paper list works best.  This may be because it lends a sense of permanence to the list when it’s made.  Making a list helps you look at your habits and helps with accountability.

Do the Hard Stuff First

Inevitably, many items on your To Do list will be quick and easy tasks, and the temptation to do them quickly so you can have the satisfaction of striking them off the list will be strong.  However, if you spend all your time on these tiny tasks, the larger, more difficult tasks may inevitably end up being pushed away again.  To combat this, make a decisive effort to attack the largest tasks first.  It may take more time, and you may feel like the small tasks are getting neglected, but getting those larger tasks done first will feel great.  The smaller tasks will be easy breezy and you’re apt to get them done in very little time, knowing that when you do, you’re done!

The Two Minute Rule

Small and large tasks may be easily managed via To Do lists, but many items on your list may be annoying or boring middle-of-the-road tasks.  When you consider putting off one of these tasks, stop and consider – will I be able to do this in two minutes?  You’d be surprised how many tasks can be completed in as little as 120 seconds.   Give these tasks that 120 seconds of dedicated focus, and you may be shocked to find that you can finish many things in that seemingly short interval of time.  A mere 120 seconds vs. days of procrastination?  That’s an easy choice.

10 Minute Frenzy, 10 Minute Breaks

When you find yourself getting distracted by Facebook, Email, texts, TV shows, etc., take a moment to focus.  Close unnecessary browser windows, set the phones to silent, turn the TV off, and give yourself ten minutes of intense, uninterrupted work.  Watch how much you can get done with just 10 minutes of focused work. You may even find that as you work, you hit a surge of productivity that extends well beyond this 10-minute period.

You can also break up those momentous tasks with a focused 10-minute break.  Set the timer and go do something for 10 minutes to give your mind a break. Take your dog for a walk, do some yoga stretches, scroll Facebook, watch a funny video, listen to some music, call your friend, and so on. Sometimes a ten-minute break can do wonders to let go and refresh yourself. Then, be sure you get back to your task.

Why tacking procrastination matters

You want to experience progress and success in life. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this.  But if you’re consistently procrastinating like many people do, you’re going to stifle your growth. You’re going to bring undue stress into your life because when you’re not being as productive in any area as you could be, you create contrast.  You may not consciously realize it, but unconsciously you create a tug-of-war.

You want forward momentum, but procrastination slows you down or brings you to a halt. This goes for your business, as well as your personal life.  If you look at successful people, most of them have gotten very good at planning and executing their plans. Do they procrastinate? Oh, maybe once in a while, but they’ve come to understand the importance of beating procrastination. They understand the payoff of creating and doing their To Do list.

And so can you. In fact, I encourage and challenge you to resist the temptation to procrastinate from here on out. Pride yourself in getting the job done, task by task, day by day, and just watch how your life changes for the better.

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