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Procrastination - Should I or Shouldn't I?

From guest blogger - Dr Darryl Cross.

Is procrastination a serious challenge in your life or someone you know?

Admittedly, it can be difficult to do things we don't want to do, but constantly putting off doing what must be done only serves to sabotage us in the worst way.

Why do we procrastinate?

In my experience, I've noted that procrastination can come from a number of factors:

1. The fear of failure. If I start something, then it can come under scrutiny and people may judge it or evaluate it and if they did so, that would be "awful" and I'd be seen as wanting and not up to the task. Perhaps too, I might be "found out" to be a fake or an imposter.

2. The need for perfectionism. In order for me to succeed, it must be 100% perfect. Hence, it's hard to start any task, simply because it may not be perfect. Again, if it's not perfect, what will others think of me?

3. The need to please others. I want to be liked and therefore, I want to do the best job that I can. I want to please my boss, director, colleague, teacher, coach, and if there's a chance that I may not please them, then maybe I won't start the task or job in the first place. So, I'll out it off.

What to do about it?

1. Do your most important task first. Most of us most of the time put off the most important task and human nature being what it is, we simply do that which is easiest. Instead, try doing your most important task first, you don't have to "feel" like it, you just have to do it!

2. Schedule when you're going to do it. Make an appointment in your calendar for the day and time you're going to work on the task.

3. Consider scheduling just enough time to get started. A long, unpleasant task can be very difficult to start. Think "I'm going to work on this for 15 minutes." That's easy enough that you should be able to sit down and get busy.  Interestingly, once you get started, you'll probably spend a lot more than 15 minutes on it. Getting started is the tough part.

4. Break the task into smaller parts. Larger tasks can seem overwhelming. Divide the task into manageable parts; it will be psychologically easier to tackle the project. 

5. Which part is the most dreaded part? Frequently, there is a small part of the task that is really holding you back. Is it possible to get someone else to take care of that part of the task for you? Can you outsource it?

6. Pick the best time to do it. We all have times when we're better at concentrating, others when we're more creative, and other times when we have more energy.

7. Get what you need to complete it. Set yourself up. Make a list of the tools, supplies, and resources that you'll need to both begin and complete the task.

8. Reward yourself! Give yourself a reward for completing the task.

Getting rid of procrastination is a huge weight off one's shoulders. Start using the tips above and start living a less stressed life. You'll be really glad you did!

Thanks to Mindshop Advisor Dr. Darryl Cross - Executive Coach & Psychologist, Crossways Consulting, July 2013

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