Help for Procrastinators
Help for Procrastinators
We all know the procrastinator. He does his holiday shopping on Christmas Eve, never pays the bills before their due date and likely does not do maintenance on the car until it is need of repairs. On my mother’s refrigerator she has a handwritten note that says, “If it is to be, then it is up to me.” I like that saying. Procrastinators never utilize this theory. Procrastinators are often overwhelmed with their to-do list, so they opt for doing less important tasks or nothing at all.

We all have chores and commitments that we would rather not do and by putting off the work, it often becomes more difficult to accomplish.

So, why do people procrastinate?

Self discipline – Procrastinators do not have a lot of self discipline. They often drink too much, spend too much and eat too much. Their self control is lacking as they like to live in the moment. They will tell lies to themselves to justify dealing with issues at a later time. “I’m too tired”. “I will have more time to do this on Wednesday.” In reality, a ten minute task could be completed timely, but by putting it off more damage may be done and procrastination can indeed create mountains out of molehills.

Fear of facing problems – if you put off calling the doctor how can he tell you what might be wrong? The automobile oil needs changing, but you are not sure you know how to change it. Your tire is leaking air, but the can of Stop Leak you bought for just a few dollars seemed to do the trick. The procrastinator is thinking, “Why should I go spend money on a new tire? If I go buy a tire, that really means two tires and then I’ll need the other two tires rotated”.

Distractions – Finding distractions to keep from doing certain tasks has been exacted by the procrastinator. Checking e-mail, reading the snail mail and making phone calls are quick and easy distractions to help defer the pressing chores until a “more convenient” time. The problem with this mindset, however, is that there never is a convenient time.

Boredom – The thrill seeking procrastinator finds menial tasks boring. Running errands is more fun than fixing a squeaking ceiling fan. If the trip to the post office, the bank and the grocery store takes up enough time, the ceiling fan will have to wait until another day because now it is time to cook dinner, which is still more fun than fixing a ceiling fan.

Multi-Tasking – Procrastinators do not always realize that much can be accomplished by combining projects. You can wash the coffee pot while the big game is on television. You can write out the monthly bills while watching the Super Bowl pre-game show. You can spray WD-40 on the door hinges while talking on the cell phone.

What is in it for me? – Many procrastinators have a selfish streak. While fixing the ceiling fan may help reduce your power bill, unless that fan is located in the bedroom of the procrastinator, where he or she is directly irritated by its sound, it is not a “me” project. If “their” ceiling fan is squeaking, watch how fast it gets fixed. The ceiling fan suddenly becomes a priority.

Getting Back on Track

Some projects can be put off until eventually they just go away. Others, like filing a tax return or paying the electric bill must be dealt with or there will be consequences such as the lights being turned off. With a bit of planning, the procrastinator can begin to control some of these habits and here are some ideas to help get you back on track; but you must start today!

Break Large Tasks into Smaller Ones – By creating manageable tasks from one seemingly impossible large one, tasks get handled one piece at a time. Think of it as a boulder in the road. One person could not possibly remove the boulder without the help of heavy machinery. However, if you chip away at the rock each and everyday eventually the pieces will be small enough to carry off alone.

Self-evaluation – Take an honest look at the tasks you seem to put off. Are there specific reasons why you are avoiding them? If you are avoiding repairing the fence around your back yard, is it because you think it is too much to handle or are you afraid it may require more skills than you have? By identifying the reason for the procrastination you are much better equipped to conquer your quest. Ask someone to give you a hand, or hire a professional.

Time Management – Set aside a block of time each and every day to handle the items you keep stalling over – and work on them. Accomplish several or chip away at one larger one, but stay focused on your project(s) and do not allow any distractions to interfere. Turn off the phone, don’t answer the door and ignore your emails.

The next time you find yourself putting off a task ask yourself one question, ‚ÄúWhy am I not willing to do this right now?‚Äù After you realize the excuses you give to yourself are fairly lame, be proud of yourself for accomplishing today’s objectives.

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