I was planning to write this post last week, but I put it off.
Okay, now that the obligatory bad joke is out of the way, we can look at another internal time waster, procrastination.
We all put things off. We hope to avoid tasks that are boring, difficult, unpleasant, etc. When faced with something we don’t want to do, we can find a dozen tasks of no consequence to fill our time.
We secretly hope that, by procrastinating, the unpleasant task will shrink and go away. Unfortunately, the reverse is often true; the deferred job just gets bigger and more difficult.
Overcoming procrastination requires strategy. The next time you’re tempted to put off something you don’t want to do, try some of these tips:
- Set a deadline – a task without a deadline can be put off indefinitely. Set a date and stick to it.
- Set up a reward system – make it commensurate with the task. An afternoon cleaning out the garage is worth dinner out, while a 14 month software roll-out might warrant a tropical vacation.
- Arrange for a follow-up – assign someone to be a “nag-buddy”. Give them permission to check in periodically to make sure you’re staying on track.
- Do it first – tackle difficult jobs early in the day, when you have the most energy.
- Break the task into small pieces – if the whole seems too big to tackle, break it into manageable sub-tasks.
- Avoid over-thinking – Doubts will arise for even the most confident of people and doubt can lead to procrastination. Try doubting your doubts.
- Do it now – don’t put if off any longer. Sometimes you just have to jump in and get it done.
- Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James
- Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. ~Don Marquis
- There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back. ~Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
- You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin
- Someday is not a day of the week. ~Author Unknown
- Don’t fool yourself that important things can be put off till tomorrow; they can be put off forever, or not at all. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
- Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. ~Victor Kiam
- The best way to get something done is to begin. ~Author Unknown
- Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. ~Spanish Proverb
- Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer
- Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man. ~Jimmy Lyons
- A year from now you may wish you had started today. ~Karen Lamb
- Procrastination is the thief of time. ~Edward Young