On the back of Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles,” you can find the following quotation: “The principles always work if you work the principles”.
Simply, this translates into doing instead of just thinking. And doing is synonymous with action, execution, implementation, carrying out – all these convey the active mode as opposed to the passive mode of just thinking. Procrastination pervades every aspect of our lives and is a very expensive habit.
If you were to take time to analyse the cost of not doing something you will find that it can be very costly. This alone can be a strong motivator to not procrastinate.
Jack Canfield quoted Brian Tracy to drive home the message: “Life is like a combination lock; your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can have anything you want”.
Here are 7 top tips to help you avoid procrastination. Beginning with self-evaluation:
1. Everything starts and ends with the self
When it comes to procrastination it is easy to blame someone else. You procrastinate because you yourself choose to procrastinate. The sooner you accept that, the better you’ll be able to overcome procrastination.
2. I want NOT to procrastinate anymore
In line with tip # 1 above, once you accept that procrastination is your weakness, the next step is to eliminate this weakness. Your desire not to procrastinate anymore should be sincere. You need to demonstrate that determination through small daily gestures.
3. Mea Culpa-Take Responsibility
You’ve accepted the fact that (a) you’re a procrastinator, and (b) you have a sincere desire to change. Now tell yourself that if you fail to achieve a particular goal or a given task, it’s because you procrastinated. Mea culpa. Admitting guilt is a giant step. Note, however, that there is a huge difference between admitting guilt and being too hard on yourself. Admitting guilt is taking ownership of your actions. Being too hard on yourself is unjustified self-blame. Continue from where you left off.
4. Ask: In what ways do I procrastinate?
Ask yourself, “In what ways do I procrastinate?” Sit down with a pen and paper. Writing them will help you focus and identify them more clearly. Here are some ways where people procrastinate:
- paying bills
- not discussing the complaints you’ve received about a member of your team for fear of hurting his/her feelings
- repeatedly postponing a dental appointment because you’ve got better things to do
- not returning the call of your son’s teacher because you know what the problem is and you’re fed up
5. Goals not met 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.
For example, you promised your editor you’d get that article done by a certain due date. On the day the article was due, the editor calls you. You tell her sheepishly that you didn’t have time to do it, and you say something like, “My son was sick for days and I couldn’t concentrate” knowing full well your editor was generous with a deadline date.
Result? You took one step farther away from your goal of becoming a professional writer, and two steps farther away from developing a good relationship with an editor who picked you from the 25 writers who applied for the assignment. You can be sure your name has been taken off her address list.
When you measure the consequences of a missed opportunity because you procrastinated, ask if the consequence was worth the delay.
6. Taking the hint from tips 4 and 5: what is the financial value of missed opportunity?
In fast-paced societies, people tend to think of time as precious and valuable. Expressions such as “time is of the essence,” “time means money,” “you missed the train”, “you missed a window of opportunity” reinforce the value of time.
So, install a permanent calculator in your brain and calculate how much that missed deal meant in terms of a pound value.
The article you didn’t submit could have cost you £150.00.
Being late with your bill payments could cost you a £25.00 fee, added interest to your account and a black mark against your credit score.
7. Filtering the essential from the petty
Procrastination is the opposite of action. When you decide which of your tasks need immediate attention and those that can be done later in the week, you’ve just learned the fine art of prioritising. So decide – once and for all – which should be assigned top priority, and then act.
Procrastination means losing precious time, wasting valuable resources and missing life’s golden opportunities.
By taking action and implementing some of these tips you will begin to take control of your life by mastering your time and optimising your resources.
In the words of Thomas Edison “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”
About the Author
Sandra Hinshelwood is a business coach and mentor and editor of Business Partner Magazine. She works with small business owners and solo entrepreneurs, helping them to eliminate overwhelming feelings and empowers them to focus on their goals and visions with greater clarity and confidence.