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How to Defeat the Siren Call of Procrastination

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We have all fallen victim to the procrastination bug.  I call it a bug, because like the flu it can make us sick and tired.  Sick and tired of not excelling, not making enough money, not having our projects done on time, and stress.

People procrastinate in different degrees.  From a once in a while thing, to complete break down of results.  Why do people procrastinate?

One reason may be, they don’t see a value or adverse consequences in having something done in the time frame it needs to be completed.  For instance, If a teacher gives the student a credit for a paper even if it’s a day late, is there an urgency to get it done on time?

Many times, procrastination stems from not being able to see or visualize the end result.  If we can’t see the end result and how good it will be, or feel, when it is completed, where is the motivation to do it?

Another reason for putting things off  is not being invested in the outcome.  When it’s something we really don’t care about and haven’t invested any part of ourselves in the outcome, do we feel compelled to follow through?

Habitual procrastination can be a lack of self discipline or laziness.  Or, a lack of motivation to start or complete the project or task.  I know people who put off things they say they really, really want to do.  They can’t force themselves to make the time to do it.  A hundred other things seem to have a siren type hypnotic call; the unwashed dishes, laundry to fold, checking email one more time.  We follow the call and end up doing nothing about what should matter most.

Procrastination becomes a form of self sabotage.  When someone is overcome too many times by the call of procrastination, they realize it has resulted in a life of unfinished projects and mediocrity.  Then, out pops the cat o’ nine tails and the self flogging begins.  This results in a downward spiral of disastrous consequences.

Here are three things I have found which help me recover from the sickness of procrastination:

WRITE IT DOWN

I write down on paper what needs to be accomplished.  This is a way to clearly and concretely picture my project goals and tasks.  When I write down my list of things I want to accomplish, I become more invested in the outcome.

PRIORITIZE IT

After I write it down, I prioritize it.  There are, often, many things needing to be done.  If I write it down I can prioritize  the important tasks.  It helps create the steps needed to accomplish the task.  Prioritizing helps to weed out the less important tasks and focus on what needs to be done.

DO SOMETHING!

The most important step is to do something! Take action!  Anything to create a forward motion.  The hardest step in getting anything done is starting.  I know when I start a writing project, I pull up my notepad and stare at the white virginal screen.  I will stare indefinitely at it with nothing appearing on the screen, unless I move forward by typing something….anything…to get me started.  By starting, I gain focus and a sense of forward momentum.  If it’s not how I want it to read, I can always go back and fix it, but there won’t be anything to fix if I don’t get started.

Next time, when confronted by the bug of procrastination instead of fallen ill to its siren song, try writing it down, prioritizing it, and start doing something.  You may find the path cleared for excellence and less stress.  Try it, you’ll like it!

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