When you find yourself procrastinating on a particular project, or just delaying in general, it is always a good idea to ask why. If a task is difficult, it’s difficult for a reason, and you need to know what that reason is, before you can change it.
Procrastination can be just a habit, and sometimes society even rewards you for delaying action, such as late season Christmas bargains, or waiting past the early adopter stage for new technology. And no one wants to make a poorly thought out decision. But if delaying is causing problems in your life, ask yourself these questions.
1. Do I feel qualified to perform the task?
Am I in over my head? Being afraid that you will fail at something is a sure-fire way to get you to stop before you’ve started. Overcome procrastination by being honest with yourself (and your supervisor if applicable) about your level of training in this particular task. Don’t complain. Simply request help so that you can learn, or be willing to turn the task over to someone qualified.
2. Is this something I really want?
I was having trouble finishing a proposal for a seminar, and I couldn’t figure out why. As I started to really think about it, I realized that the project was going to take a lot of time away from the work I really love. As soon as I contacted an associate and got her to take over the project, I was able finish my part of the presentation in no time. Push Past Procrastination by telling the truth about what you really want out of life. Live as the star of your own life, not as an extra in somebody else’s.
3. Does the task seem huge, even overwhelming?
Overcome procrastination by breaking the job down into smaller steps to get it under control and manageable. Instead of trying to set up a complete filing system at one time, focus on setting up one particular group. Instead of forcing yourself to write the perfect article in one afternoon, schedule a specific amount of time you will work on it each day or week.
4. Do I find it hard to just get started?
The hardest things about everyday tasks is getting started on them. It’s kind of like pushing a stalled car … once you get going, everything rolls right along. Push Past Procrastination by setting up systems that help you. For example, if the mail piles up, try opening, sorting, filing, or throwing it away immediately…before it ever leaves your hand.
5. Are there too many things demanding my attention so that nothing of real value gets done?
Overcome procrastination by setting priorities. Develop a filter system so that only what’s contributing to your goals gets in. Making a task easier often comes with making a choice to adjust your schedule, set boundaries, and protecting your time and energy.
6. Is this really my goal, or it it someone else’s?
Are you doing it to “please” someone, but you would be much happier being somewhere else and doing something else? Obviously there’s nothing wrong with pleasing the people you love. But if you find yourself in a role or job that no longer fits, it’s a signal that you will need to find another route to take. Push Past Procrastination by examining how you spend your time, what roles you are playing, and how they relate to who you are at this time in your life.
7. Am I afraid of the outcome?
Procrastination may show up in employment when the fear of finishing one project without having another on the horizon may mean that you would get laid off. Procrastination may show up if you fear being blamed for bad results. Procrastination may show up in personal situations as a fear of losing what you now have, even if it’s not what you want. Push Past Procrastination by having reserves. Without reserves, you live in fear. Fear causes you to make decisions you don’t want to make, and that in turn makes you procrastinate. Build reserves and fear will no longer slow you down.
Recommended Books on Procrastination:
- Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now
- The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done
- The Procrastinator’s Handbook: Mastering the Art of Doing It Now
- Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
- The Procrastination Workbook: Your Personalized Program for Breaking Free from the Patterns That Hold You Back
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination
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