Techniques to Manage Procrastination

SET PRIORITIES

What not to do :  I don’t know where to begin, so I can’t begin at all.

What not to do:  I have to do EVERYTHING!!  Nothing less will do.

What to do:  The most important step is to pick one project and just focus on that one.

 

BREAK THE TASK DOWN INTO SMALL STEPS

What not to do:  There’s so much to do and it’s all so complicated.  I’m overwhelmed by my taxes!

What to do:  I don’t have to do the whole project at once.  There are separate, small steps I can take one at a time to get my taxes ready for my accountant.

 

SET UP SMALL, SPECIFIC GOALS

What not to do:  I have to write the book within six month.

What to do:  If I write two pages a day, Monday through Friday, I can finish one chapter in a month.  I’ll have six chapters in six months.

 

TAKE ONE SMALL STEP AT A TIME

What not to do:  It’s too much.  I’ll never get it all done.

What to do:  What is the one next step on my list?  I’ll concentrate on that step for right now.

 

REWARD YOURSELF RIGHT AWAY WHEN YOU ACCOMPLISH A SMALL GOAL

What not to do:  I can’t take any time out until I’ve completely finished this.

What to do:  I spent an hour working.  Now I’ll call a friend.

 

USE A TIME SCHEDULE

What not to do:  I must devote the whole week to this project.

What to do:  I can use these times this week to work on my project:

Monday 7-8, Tuesday 7-9, Saturday 10-12

 

LEARN HOW TO TELL TIME

What not to do:  Sorting through these papers and reorganizing my file cabinet will be easy.  It won’t take more than an hour, so I can do it anytime.

What to do:  Sorting papers always takes longer than I expect, so I’ll get started tonight.  I’ll spend an hour filing one stack of papers.

 

OPTIMIZE YOUR CHANCES FOR SUCCESS

What not to do:  I’ll do my writing this weekend at home.

What to do:  I’ll write during the week in a library or in my office.  (Choose whatever conditions are optimal for you to get work done.)

 

DELEGATE, IF POSSIBLE

What not to do:  I’m the only one in the world who can do this.

What to do:  I don’t have to do it all myself.  I can ask someone else to do part of the job and still feel a sense of accomplishment.

 

JUST GET STARTED

What not to do:  I can’t write this speech until inspiration hits.

What to do:  I’ll write whatever comes first into my mind and then I can improve it later.

 

LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED

What not to do:  I have hardly made a dent in all there is to do.

What to do:  I called three clients and made one sale, which is more than I did yesterday.

 

BE REALISTIC!!

What not to do:  I should be able to work full-time, take an evening class, be president of PTA, keep up with current events, spend more time with my family, and exercise an hour a day with no trouble at all.

What to do:  I have limits.  I can take on fewer responsibilities and still feel productive and like myself.

* 1982, Procrastination Seminars
Jane B. Burka, Ph.D.; Lenora M. Yuen, Ph.D.; and Susan Chandler, M.S.
 
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