Did you ever feel this overwhelming effect when you started something new? Learning a new language, working hard to get a promotion, or just getting things done: The more complex the subject is, the more difficult it will be to know what to do next – and the bigger will be this overwhelming effect. And it all summarizes in the following: There is a lot you can do. But what SHOULD you do?
Let us start with a little analysis what procrastination in general is: When you procrastinate, you put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done. “But”, I hear you say, “when I suffer from the overwhelm effect because of all the things I learned, how can you say that I put off INTENTIONALLY the doing of something?” This is what I will show you. And of course, we will find an answer to the question: How can you stop this effect?
First let’s make clear that this is not tended to be some medical advice whatsoever. These are just a few quick tips that I will share with you to stop procrastinating. So with no further ado, let’s begin…
Tip # 1: Everything starts and ends with YOU
What does that mean? If someone said to you that you were procrastinator your immediate reaction would be to defend yourself. This is quite normal. But in this matter, everything will be more difficult. The sooner you accept the fact that you CHOOSE to procrastinate, the sooner you will be able to overcome this overwhelming effect of procrastination.
Tip # 2: “I want NOT to procrastinate anymore”
Once you accept that procrastination is a weakness – your weakness – the easier the next step will be. You surely want to eliminate the weakness. It should be your sincere desire not to procrastinate anymore. And you need to demonstrate that determination through small daily gestures.
Tip # 3: Mea culpa – take responsibility
This goes in combination with tips # 1 and # 2. After applying them you have to tell yourself that if you fail to achieve a particular goal or a given task, it is because you procrastinated. Admitting guilt is taking ownership of your actions, and this is very important. That way, you will change your behaviour. You have to change the way you acted before. And this is a great beginning.
Tip # 4: Analyze in what ways you procrastinate
Take pen and paper. Writing these points down will help you focus and identifies things more clearly for yourself. It is like an early action plan.
Tip # 5: The goals you did not meet because of procrastination
After listing the ways in which you procrastinate, make a second list of goals that you failed to achieve because you procrastinated. This way you can measure out the consequences of a missed opportunity. Every time ask yourself if the consequence was worth the delay.
Tip # 6: What is the dollar value of missed opportunities?
In fast-paced societies, people tend to think of time as precious and valuable. You know expressions like “time is off the essence” or “time means money”. This reinforces the value of time. You can use this practice to your advantage: if we made it a practice to “tag a dollar sign” for each of our procrastinations, we would probably resolve to procrastinate less.
Tip # 7: Filtering the essential from the petty
You have to understand that procrastination is the opposite of action. Decide which of your tasks need immediate attention. Differentiate between them and those that can be done later that day or the week. You have just learned the fine art of prioritizing. So decide once and for all which task should be assigned top priority and that then act upon it!
Tip # 8: Better in black and white
Putting things down on paper is much more effective than just thinking out how to avoid procrastination. If you write down what needs to be done, you will focus on those tasks from the implementation to completion. Once it is completed take it off your list. This is the sense of accomplishment, no matter how small this accomplishment is. Then you go on to the next task until you actually get used to the idea of doing rather than procrastinating. This is much more productive.
Tip # 9: Discard old habits
We are creatures of habit, even if we know that a certain activity is no longer cost effective, sometimes we continue doing it anyway. Let’s take an example: not looking for alternatives. It’s always good to have alternative ways. So look for them every once and awhile. Necessarily, you have to be balanced between looking for alternatives and deciding which way to choose. Otherwise you would probably end in another state of procrastination which would be counterproductive. So be circumspect.
Tip # 10: If you fall back a few steps, climb the stairs again
Sure it will be difficult staying on course for the first few days or even weeks. It is like going to the gym for the first time: you are all motivated for the first three days and then you stop. Old habits die hard. But since everything is on your written task list, revise it and plan on doing the tasks within a specific time frame. Do not dwell too long on what you failed to do, but start climbing the stairs again and get to the top without looking back. Try it. It will work!
Tip # 11: Break every task into small parts
Divide every project into small parts. When you set up the project’s outline, pick out the sections you think are the most difficult and start working on them. You can leave the easy parts for later. Breaking a job into tinier segments is an effective way of taking immediate action instead of postponing it for later.
Tip # 12: Procrastinating can lead to tunnel vision
If you analyze things a lot, you could get “paralysed” and stay stuck in analysis mode. This could lead you some sort of tunnel vision effect. If you eliminate procrastination from your life, you will avoid tunnel vision. There is always more than one way to get to where you want to be. Look for those alternatives. Jump on new opportunities. Even if they are hard to find at first. And I have to repeat the same as for tip # 9: be careful. Too many ways can make you stand where you are.
Tip # 13: “Urgent” is the flavor of the day
Today, everything seems to be urgent. We cannot escape this fact. Time has a great value today. You need to squeeze 26 hours out of only 24. If you have to sift through reports or you have to read e-books or anything else to educate you on new topics in your business, try to get to the bottom line. Filter through the essential data and read those. Try to identify the key chapters of a book and concentrate on them. Identify the most important stuff. These things have to be done first, and that way you stay focused on what to do.
Tip # 14: “You’ve got mail”
How much time would it take to go through all the messages you receive every day? Voice mails, e-mails and even tweets from Twitter take you away from your main functions. Being interrupted too many times can make you procrastinate. How can you overcome this? Deal with the most important messages and decide which ones can be dealt with this afternoon, tomorrow or next week. You could file them away in a sub-folder. So they do not take a visual space on the computer screen. Do not read your e-mail messages every time they arrive. Do it once or twice a day, but not every time. And by the way, even Twitter can be turned off!
Tip # 15: When are you the most productive?
You should be tackling your most difficult responsibilities when you are most energetic and productive. Leave the less essential ones for another time. There are some people who like to work through their lunch hours because that’s when they reach peak energy levels. Find out when you are the most productive and concentrate on those times to deal with tasks that need “full brain power”.
Tip # 16: Do first what you hate most
There are certain aspects of our business we don’t like. But you need not let these unpleasant tasks derail you. Make it a daily habit to tackle them first. They become easier for you to do and will not be as unpleasant. And in that way you are not procrastinating but will feel the sensation of having accomplished a hated task right at the beginning of your work day.
Tip # 17: Upgrade your skills, expand your knowledge base
In business, you will need to improve. Always. Don’t procrastinate, because you will never know when those new skills must be at hand. The Internet Business itself changes all the time, so you have to be on the qui vive for everything that happens. Be sensible to new developments, but at that same time be careful not to be overwhelmed again!
Tip # 18: You do not have to change everything
People procrastinate because they are overwhelmed by the enormity of what they are facing. To stop procrastinating does not mean radically changing everything or suddenly switching from one state of mind to another. But bear one thing in mind: The more you delay, the more dissatisfied you will be with your life and its results.
Recap: I am sure that when you are just beginning your journey in learning that new language or in simply getting things done in every day life, that you stumbled upon many pieces of advice who could be somewhat contradictory. This is due to the fact that there are many “gurus” out there teaching their stuff. The first thing you have to recognize is that “many ways lead to Rome”. And you cannot follow all the systems at once and at the same time. But the initial effect of recognizing this could make you procrastinate. But you have to TAKE ACTION. So choose one system at the beginning. This shall make you going. But be careful, circumspect – and balanced. Apply the tips mentioned above. This is what helped me – and it helps me still.
If there are other things you encountered or if you want to share other tips, please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!