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How Can I Eliminate Procrastination?

The first step in overcoming procrastination is to identify its cause. If due to low self-esteem or a tough project, then prepare an action plan to deal with it. If fear of taking the wrong step is behind the procrastination, seek out others familiar with the work to discuss your ideas. Then you can pursue the project more confidently.

Some people can’t focus on big projects unless small, insignificant work has been completed. If this is the cause of the problem, often it is better to finish the small tasks as quickly as possible and then turn to the major project than to force yourself to work on the bigger, more important task.

Start the task very early in the workday. Tell your staff that you should not be disturbed while you are at work on the assignment. Since scheduled activities have a better chance of getting done, just scheduling when you will work on a project increases the chances of your completing it on time. When scheduling, don’t forget to set a deadline. Put that deadline in writing and post it where you will be constantly reminded about it. Even share your commitment with others so you will be further moved to get the work done.

Don’t forget, either, to reward yourself when you have completed the task. If you think you might procrastinate over a task, determine what you should give yourself (e.g., special lunch, new clothes, an afternoon off) for completing it and follow through with the reward when the task is completed.

Tell Me More

People procrastinate for several reasons. Among them are:

Low self-esteem. Some people experience an internal conflict between others’ expectations and their fears about meeting those expectations.

Overwhelming work. Sometimes tasks seem too difficult or time-consuming so we hold off working on them either in the hopes of having sufficient time later to do the work or out of intimidation about the amount of work entailed.

Poor prioritization. Important but difficult tasks are put aside as we handle smaller, easier, or more enjoyable tasks. Often, doing this misleads us to think that we have accomplished something.

Fear of failure. Some managers prefer not to work on a project out of fear of making a mistake.

Figuring out why you are procrastinating can help you remove the cause and get on with your work. Here are some other ideas:

Break the work into subsets, which can be done over time. The work will also look less formidable this way, and it will be easier to complete the job without having to affect other assignments.

You might want to just get started. The momentum then will carry you forward. Identify one simple thing—something that can be done quickly and easily and does not require conscious effort. It may be as simple as sharpening a pencil, putting a piece of paper into a typewriter, or turning on the personal computer in your office.