This is the best article on procrastination I’ve ever seen. Hugh Culver puts in one place the best ideas on how to overcome this near universal problem of procrastination. We start with Part 1 today. I hope you enjoy…. DRM
Stop Procrastination Today
Do you ever say this? “I can always exercise tomorrow.” Or “I’ll make those sales calls next week.” Or “I’ll apologize to her tomorrow.” Or “It’s only one donut; I’ll start my diet this weekend.”
Admit it, you procrastinate. I procrastinate as well – we all do. And even when we know better – we still slide into that convenient excuse that gets us out of the work that we know needs to be done. The challenge is that we get a payoff to putting off hard work that is sometimes hard to compete with. At a primal level, we are wired to avoid hard work (your choice: go to the gym or watch Friends reruns?) “The lizard brain” says author Seth Godin “adores a deadline that slips, an item that doesn’t ship and most of all, busywork.”
The good news is that there is a better way and it is easier than you think. With just a little change in thinking and shift in habit you can move from putting off to putting on the work that really gets results. Yes, the emails and paper shuffling can wait-there are bigger rewards to be had and I’m going to show you how to get there.
Why we do it
The word procrastinate is formed from two Latin words – pro, meaning ‘forward’, and crastinus, meaning ‘belonging to tomorrow’. So, procrastination is the act of putting something into tomorrow and, of course, it suggests that it is always ‘in tomorrow’ – so never gets done.
We pay our taxes late and are penalized, even though last year we swore we wouldn’t. We put off starting the diet because it’s ‘not a good time’, or because everyone else ordered the cheesecake with fresh strawberries. We put off making those sales calls we planned to do because we convince ourselves it’s not the perfect time. Or we avoid giving an employee tough feedback because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.
It’s crazy-making behavior and we keep doing it!
We all have a natural tendency to avoid the pain of hard work – we want to put it off and to take what author Robert Fritz calls the “path of least resistance.” And now with email, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of digital distractions we can fill every available minute.
I have been writing for some time about how we have moved into what I call the “Age of Distraction.” Our phones are beeping, people drop by our desk, email floods our InBox 24/7 and our mind swims with To-Do lists that never seem to end. In the Age of Distraction we need to sharpen our skills to stay off the path of least resistance and on the road of effectiveness.
Being effective isn’t necessarily about working harder. Instead, effectiveness is all about constantly making good decisions to maximize what you make of your minutes.
A mental re-frame
When you procrastinate, you are not idle – you are still doing something (it’s just the wrong thing.) When you keep yourself busy to avoid that tough conversation you were doing something. When you flopped down on in front of Seinfeld reruns instead of going for a walk you were still doing something. And when you spent an hour on email you were still doing something.
In other words, you don’t procrastinate-you just make bad decisions.
So, it stands to reason that if you are active when you procrastinate, then the path to more success is to simply redirect your activity.
When I return from a meeting, I might be tempted to work on the 30 new emails that arrived since I left. The reality is that most of these emails have little value – they’re certainly not as important as my Day Plan. Instead, I need to make a better decision and allow just five minutes to scan for critical emails and then I turn my attention to my Plan.
It’s simply about staying in motion, but with better choices, so you can create great habits that get you more of what you want.
Procrastination is a habit
I hope by now you are getting this important distinction: you are not a procrastinator – you just have habits that make you look like one. And the best antidote for habits that don’t serve you is to create better habits that do. The following strategies will get you started on your new, better habits. I know because I use them daily and so do many of my clients. The trick is you have to use them repeatedly to allow the new habit to take root and really benefit you. To get started I suggest you pick just one of these and try it for a week and then notice the results.
Pay close attention to what slight shift in feeling and results you are getting. Did you complete something you had been putting off for weeks? Great, keep practicing the new habit. Did you stick to your plan for the morning and resist unwanted distractions? Great, that’s a sign that your change is working. If not, choose another new habit from this list and try it for a week. Anyone of these strategies might be the one you need to accelerate your results and avoid procrastination. Okay, here we go…
Take responsibility for each delay.
Do you ever catch yourself scanning your To-Do list, thinking why this isn’t the perfect time for any of them and doing none of them? How long did that take you? Five minutes, ten – it all adds up. If you were wasting money on food you don’t need or clothes you don’t wear, hopefully you would stop. Well, time is just as important.
When I catch myself scanning my Day Plan and still not taking action – I recognize it for what it is – procrastination. My trick is to catch myself, pick one quick win, do it, and then cross it off the list. Success fuels more success and one task leads to another and another. Before I know it I am on a roll, crossing work off my list and feeling more optimistic.
When you catch yourself slipping into old, negative self-talk about how little time you have or how big the project is you need to start on, stop. Stop and restate your thoughts as a positive affirmation (“In 20 minutes I can get a good start on this”, or “Once I start I will enjoy seeing the results” or “It will feel so good to see this moving forward.” Remember, a chorus of neurons are constantly eavesdropping on your mental machinations and being programmed. You your thoughts are your biggest cheerleaders, and sometimes even a cheerleader needs coaching.
Copyright (c) 2013 Marathon Communications Inc. All rights reserved. (Used with permission)
Hugh Culver created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and consults to leading companies like Telus, Shoppers Drug Mart, Red Cross, and Bell. He is the author of Give Me a Break-the art of making time work for you.
Discover more tips on working smarter and living better in the age of distraction at http://www.hughculver.com
Article Source: Stop Procrastination Today
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of Hugh Culver’s article on procrastination. What did you learn? What ways do you over come procrastination in your life? Let us know by leaving a comment…
Stay tuned next time for Part 2 of Stop Procrastination Today.
Daniel R. Murphy
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.