Thursday, December 24, 2015

12 Steps to Stopping Procrastination

12 steps to stopping procrastination
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” 
― Pablo Picasso
Procrastination can cause many problems in your life, but it is a bad habit you can change if you are willing to put in the effort.

There are a number of reasons for procrastinating, so your first task is to determine why you are procrastinating. Are you afraid of failure? Do you fear success? Do you have a little negative voice in your head telling you that nothing you do is ever good enough?

Once you discover the reasons for procrastinating, you can take steps to make procrastination a thing of the past and enjoy a more successful life. Here are twelve strategies you can try:

1. Do the hardest and most unpleasant tasks first  

Get them out of the way so you can feel proud of what you’ve accomplished. Everything else will seem easy after that.

2. Break down big projects into smaller ones  

Do a little bit, then move on to another part of the project. Eventually these blocks of work will all add up to a complete project.

3. Schedule work time and break time   

Sometimes you don’t need long hours to complete a task - just consistent, focused effort for short periods of time. Work for 25 minutes, then take a break for five minutes. Do this for four sessions, then give yourself a reward of a longer break such as 15 to 30 minutes. Continue in this manner until you complete the task, and then move to the next item on your to-do list.

4. Transform your tasks 

If you find the task dull, boring or difficult, turn these negatives into a positive. For example, if it is dull, promise yourself a reward once it is done. If the task is difficult, what wonderful new things will you learn in the process of accomplishing it?

5. Avoid perfectionism 

Remember that it does not have to be perfect; it just needs to get done. Do your best, but don’t miss a deadline either.

6. Keep your work area organized  

Make sure you have everything you need to do the job in the same place. Also keep your computer organized by using folders and file names with keywords in them that accurately describe the contents.

7. Ask for help if you need it  

Often a project might just seem too overwhelming. Ask others who have the skills you need to help you get the job done.

8. Reward yourself after the work is complete  

Do something nice in your breaks. Organize a fun activity once the work is finished.

9. Manage your time  

Use planners and diaries to keep track of all deadlines. Give yourself a cushion so you are not stressed and working down to the wire.

10. Establish your priorities  

Deadlines are a fact of life. Determine what must be done first, but be prepared to switch from one task to another if your current assignment is due at the end of the week but a new one comes in that needs to be done by the end of the day.

11. Focus on finishing 

Don’t work hard for a while and then just peter out. Stay focused on getting to the end even if it means pushing through. Edit as needed once the job is done.

12. Turn off your inner critic 

As you are working, just let it flow. If you are writing, don’t agonize over every word or typo. Review and edit it all at the end as you push towards your deadline.

Once you have tackled the bad habit of procrastination, you will soon start to create an impressive track record of accomplishments of which you can be justly proud.

Merry Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Negative Effects of Procrastination

"Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and
its toll on success and happiness is heavy." - 
Wayne Gretzky
Procrastination is a bad habit that can have many negative effects on your life. If not dealt with effectively, procrastination can damage your job, relationships and even your mental health.

Why We Procrastinate

Studies have shown that more than 20% of people can be described as "chronic procrastinators" who will always put off until tomorrow what they could or should be doing today.

There are a number of reasons why people procrastinate - from fear of failure to passive aggression that states (consciously or unconsciously) that no one is going to tell THEM what to do.

No matter what the reason, people’s expectations and needs are not met, which can often lead to the end of a job or the breaking up of a relationship.

Procrastination can make you miss out on countless opportunities. As humans we tend to avoid pain and seek pleasure. We avoid things we don’t like in the mistaken belief that the temporary enjoyment we get from procrastination is worth it. The pleasure will be short-lived, however, and only lead to a lot more pain in the long run.

The Negative Effects of Procrastination

Here are some common things people procrastinate about, with often disastrous results:

  • We put off going to the doctor, then discover we have a serious illness that could have been treated more successfully if we had gone sooner.
  • We wait to pay our bills even if we have money in the account, leading to late fees and other charges.
  • We don’t do our taxes until the night before they are due, and then make a mess of it and miss out on our refund or get audited.
  • We miss deadlines at work, which affects our annual review. This can lead to not getting a raise or promotion, or even not keeping the job.
  • We miss deadlines at work in reference to our share in a larger project. We let down the whole team, and if someone has to take up the slack, this will cause resentment.

How Procrastination Can Negatively Affect All Areas of Our Lives 

In addition to all of these obvious effects as a result of procrastination, there is the wider effect of negativity and stress that can only build over time. Stress can cause fatigue, a lack of sleep, a weakened immune system and stomach issues.

At work, we will be stressed because we are under constant pressure to perform. Each missed deadline only increases this pressure. This can transform even your "dream job" into a nightmare. Failure can mean a poor reference, which will make it even harder to find and keep a good job.

At home, you might procrastinate about even the simplest of tasks you have promised to do, such as mow the lawn. This leads to tension, with the person needing the work done and you procrastinating because you hate being told what to do. Their reasonable question regarding when it will be done turns into "nagging."

Eventually, after countless promises from you, they either ask someone else, hire a professional, or do it themselves. If you are unreliable with a lot of little things, they will decide you are unreliable in general and the relationship will end.

Procrastination may seem like you are winning, seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. However, the consequences can be a great deal more painful if you do not take steps to nip procrastination in the bud.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Financial Cost of Procrastination

The Financial Cost of Procrastination
"The future is that time when you'll wish that you'd done what you aren't doing now."

Procrastination is Expensive

Procrastination in your professional life can cause a great deal of strife in your relationships. This strife will become magnified to the point of very serious financial consequences for your career or business you own if you do not take steps to stop procrastinating and get on with all of your essential business tasks. 

The most serious consequence will of course be monetary, due to lost wages and lucrative business opportunities. So why do people do it?

Why People Procrastinate at Work

Procrastination can be the result of a fear of failure, or of success. No one likes to feel a failure, so it may seem reasonable to do nothing rather than to work hard and have your efforts criticized.  

In terms of fear of success, it feels wonderful to be admired, but being put in the spotlight is not something everyone wants. It also means others will have higher expectations of you because you’re a "star."

Related to this is perfectionism. You might hate being seen at what you feel is less than your best, so you will endlessly tweak your reports or PowerPoint decks and run out of time for other important tasks.

Procrastination can also be the result of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The work is going to be difficult, so you will just do one, two, three enjoyable things and then get started. You are rewarding yourself without ever doing the work, and meanwhile the clock is ticking. 

The Clock Is Ticking

Procrastination can have serious effects on your career or the company you own because things need to get done in a timely manner in order to keep the business pushing forward with its goals. You have to show you are aligned with those goals as an employee by doing the work assigned, or you will be seen as unreliable. 

An unreliable worker is too much of a risk for most companies. It also causes a great deal of resentment if others need to cover for you or pick up the slack. The more they cover for you, the more you might procrastinate. Eventually you will be found out and lose that job, which could lead to financial disaster. 

The CEO as Procrastinator

If you are running your own business, being a chronic procrastinator can lead to financial troubles that become so bad you might go bankrupt. 

Good partnerships and happy customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. Good marketing keeps the cash coming in.  

There are a number of essential activities in every modern business, including:

* Good business communications
* Marketing, offline and online, such as running a website and social networking
* Customer acquisition
* Follow through in relation to new opportunities
* Seasonal promotions 
* Partnering with vendors
* Contracts being put together in a timely manner
* Bills being paid - rent, utilities, essential supplies and so on
* Taking inventory
* Re-ordering inventory and supplies as needed

...and much more.

We can see that most of these activities need to be done on a regular basis, usually monthly, though of course that can change during the busiest time of the year such as Christmas. Procrastinating will only lead to lost opportunities, which can have severe financial consequences your business might not be able to recover from.

If your job or business is starting to feel like you are always a day late and a dollar short, it’s time to stop procrastinating and get on with what needs to be done to make your career and company healthier.