“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” – John F. Kennedy
Most of us have a strong tendency to put off things that are difficult and important. Over the years, I have developed a number of strategies that I use daily to deal with my habit of procrastinating; the result has been a healthier habit…the habit of doing demanding and essential things as a priority.
Here are my strategies:
1. Change the Meaning of Procrastination. The first strategy is to have fun with the word.
I love words, and I love to play with them. When I read the word ‘procrastinate’, I think of the prefix ‘pro’ as meaning professional. Then I think of the root ‘crastinate’ as meaning to put off.
So, based on these meanings, a procrastinator is someone who gets paid to put things off. So either I need to get paid or decide not to be in a job where I’m not getting paid. My decision is to change to a job where I get a payback and do what I once put off.
2. Choose Two Important Projects each Day. Each day, I write a To Do list just after I awake. At the top of my list, I put down two priority projects: one that I want to complete and a second that I want to move forward significantly.
Then, during the day, I keep my energy and focus on these two projects before proceeding down my To Do list.
3. Set Appointment Time Aside for Your Priorities. I set aside one block of time each day that will be dedicated to the main project that I want to complete that day, which is one hour. During that time, I do some writing or video recording. When the appointed time arrives, I begin my work and by the end of the hour, I have completed my task.
4. Notice when you Procrastinate. The habit of doing easy things rather than difficult ones is powerful and predominant in most of us. It is so present and ‘automatic’ that often, we are not aware that we are following this pattern.
To help myself overcome this habit, I use specific reminders to bring my attention to what I am doing. I put Post It notes on the mirror in my bathroom, on my computer and on the steering wheel of my car with the question, “What are you doing today that is not a priority?” It helps me notice when I am procrastinating and compels me to stop doing unimportant things and to get difficult and important tasks accomplished.
5. Know what is Important and what is Not. Some things fit with long term goals and your vision for your life and others clearly don’t. Some things fit and others don’t.
I wanted to be more productive and achieve my goals and so I set an alignment standard for what to do during a day or week. I committed myself to writing a vision statement, writing goals aligned with the vision and creating To Dos that lined up with the goals and vision.
I then committed myself to doing at least one significant action per day that got me closer to realizing that day’s major goal. Once a chosen goal is achieved each day, I allow myself to do something “easy” that is really not that important.
Please share any strategies that you have to overcome procrastination.