16 Quick Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

So, why are you putting off paying your bills, calling about your doctor’s appointment, or talking to your husband about that touchy subject?  In other words, what’s really behind most of your procrastination?  Fear.  What if I start paying the bills and we don’t have enough money?  What if they find something in my mammogram?  What if I talk to my husband about a touchy subject and we get into a huge fight?  Do you see the fear in each of those “what ifs?”

  1. Write a specific time for completing a task in your planner. A specific time gives you more determination to do a job. Set your computer to keep bringing up a reminder.
  2. Start with doing a part of the job you enjoy. Any part you do will be a beginning.
  3. Tell someone else (like a friend, a colleague, or someone in an accountability group, such as those on www.messies.com) what you are going to accomplish.
  4. Talk out loud to the job. Aggressively challenge your feelings and face the job itself by verbalizing how you feel and how you are going to get the job done.
  5. Get rid of clutter that stands in your way. It may be what is holding you up.
  6. Get started now, especially if it’s a small task. Abide by the thirty second rule: If it takes thirty seconds or less – do it immediately. It’s amazing what can be done in thirty seconds. You can file a paper or two, take items to the bedroom that belong there, or hang up the coat you just took off.
  7. Set a timer and give yourself permission to stop working on the task after ten minutes, a half hour, or any specific time. See how fast you can go and how much you can get done.
  8. Practice productive procrastination – when you have one job you can’t make yourself do, shift over to another job. It is better to have another useful task waiting in the wings than to go to some totally nonproductive task, such as playing a computer game, watching TV, or talking on the phone.
  9. Do a little at a time; nibble it to death. Do five minutes a day and watch the job dwindle. A pile of papers to be filed, clothes to be folded, or emails to be handled cannot withstand the assault of repeated little attacks.
  10. Do it carelessly. If perfectionism is holding you back, just do it, maybe even in a deliberately slipshod way to break the hold perfectionism has on you.
  11. Strike when you are on a roll. One day when you feel good, the weather is pleasant, the moon is in the second (or whatever), and you have time, jump in and do what you have been putting off.
  12. Delegate some or the entire job. Maybe this particular job is not your thing now, so ask someone else to do it.
  13. Act as if. Become an actor and pretend you are an achiever who can and will do the task that awaits you.
  14. Gather your tools together. This may move you to actually doing the job. Set a time to put the tools away. Do the job before your designated time for quitting.
  15. Concentrate on changing your habit. If you chronically leave something undone, force yourself to do that one thing regularly. Realize you don’t need to like it to do it. At first, it will irk you. Later it will become automatic and easy.
  16. Reward yourself. When you complete a project, give yourself a reward, something special you won’t give yourself until the job is finished – maybe lunch out with a friend, a piece of jewelry, or something for the house.