Putting Things Off
It’s our final day together—and what a lot we have covered! What’s important, what’s urgent, five ways to get more done, lists, and diaries. But I have saved one of the most important things till last:
This is the habit of putting off important things until later and finding unimportant but maybe fun things to do instead. For a few minutes, I looked at Facebook instead of writing this article for you!
Procrastination is a real killer because the more you resist doing something, the more value it would add to your life if you were to do it.
Think about what you are resisting doing right now—and I bet it’s something important! And for many people, procrastination is their biggest cause of stress.
So, here are 14 short ideas on how to overcome procrastination:
1. Ask a friend for help: Get someone to help/remind/nag you, and perhaps incentivize them with something like, “If it’s not done by Friday, I’m paying for lunch.”
2. Visualize the future—imagine it going really well (the task being easy to do and great results) if you do it. Or imagine it turning out horribly badly (lots of trouble, lots of regret) if you don’t do it right away.
3. Realize that it’s causing you stress to have it hanging over you.
4. Delegate it to someone else who would like to do it or is paid to do it instead of you. At least this gets it done and also probably works out cheaper in the long run!
5. Leave the job out visible so you can’t escape it or forget it—put that folder on your desk, put those running shoes by the front door. It also makes it easy to do if the stuff is already out for you.
6. Enjoy the task—find a way! Make it a game, buy new equipment, etc.
7. Start the day with a tough one: When you come into work, ask yourself what’s the worst job on your list, and do it before you even get a chance to think.
8. Plunge in and get started before you can think of a reason not to.
9. Look after your fitness and sleep so you have energy—make every day the kind of day where you come into work and think, “Right! That job’s been on my list for too long, let’s DO it!”
10. Make it a routine so you don’t notice it. For example, if you go for a run every morning before breakfast, the first time, you’re probably thinking, “I must be mad,” but after a few weeks, it’s “just what you do.”
11. Tell yourself, “I’m a do-it-now person,” until it becomes true. Self-talk becomes your personality!
12. Break it into chunks and then say, “I’ll just do the first bit.” This fools your inner resistance, it gets you at least a first step along the way, and once you’ve started, you’ll probably feel like finishing it off.
13. Reward yourself, and set a rule like, “no coffee or chocolate until I’ve done it.”
14. Put an appointment in your diary—it feels a long way off, so it’s easy to write in, but the day will come. And then when you get there, you’ll have a nice chunk of free time reserved to make it easy for you to do the task.
Homework: Pick one of the above and try it for something you are putting off. Or pick something you’re putting off, and see which one of the above would work best for that task. You’ll probably need several of the above methods to cover the various types of tasks that you tend to put off.
And that’s the end of my time management course. I really hope you have enjoyed it! You may also want to check out my negotiating course on Highbrow.
Bye for now!
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