How To Overcome Procrastination

Benjamin Franklin said, “You may delay, but time will not.”

All of us at times are guilty of procrastination. We put things off, and delay the inevitable. The word procrastinate actually means to move something forward to another day.

It reminds me of a story about a WWII veteran. He was looking in his attic one day and saw his old army duffle bag. He opened it up and decided to put on his uniform. The uniform was a little tighter than it once was but he looked in the mirror and remembered the feeling of being a soldier out on the battlefield.

When he reached in his pocket he felt something and he pulled out a claim ticket. It was for a pair of shoes that he dropped off to be fixed years ago. The shoe repair store was still in business, so he decided to go and see, if by chance, they still had his shoes.

The owners Son now ran the store and looked at the claim ticket puzzled. “I’ll go and take a look in the back, but this was a really long time ago.” He told the Army Vet.

After a few minutes the man returned and said, “You won’t believe this but I found your shoes!”

“They will be ready for you on Wednesday.” ☺

A mentor of mine is fond of saying, “The word that is synonymous with wealth is urgency.” And for each of us to be more productive, efficient, effective and successful we need to overcome the nasty habit of procrastination.

So why do we procrastinate? There are many reasons:

• A perception that a task is unpleasant or overwhelming
• Fear of the Unknown
• Fear of Change
• Perfectionism
• Fear of Failure
• Disorganization

But regardless of the reason, the outcome is always the same. Deadlines are not met, stresses are raised, guilt sets in and it makes us look bad to others.

Most importantly, we usually procrastinate the things that are most important and make us the most money.
Things like:

• Making Salse Calls
• Preparing For Important Meetings or Presentations
• Having Tough Conversations

We allow the unimportant to get in the way of the important. Instead of making sales calls, we take out the trash and organize our office. When we are supposed to be preparing our presentation, we surf the internet or look at cool power point designs.
Yes, procrastination gets us all at times.

But I believe urgency is synonymous with wealth because wealthy people are productive. They are organized, efficient and willing to do the uncomfortable to create comfort.

So what is the remedy?

Here are a few ideas;

• If we feel overwhelmed, instead of being paralyzed break it down into actionable steps. Make one big project into 10 small projects and get to work.

• If we are afraid of being uncomfortable (making sales calls for example) then set up a reward that motivates you. If I make 10 calls, I get a piece of my favorite cake.

• If we are constantly putting things off and not following through then set up accountability with someone who will call you on it and keep you on track.

Feel free to share your ideas on how you overcome procrastination. Lets all learn together.


5 Responses

  1. I just listened to a CD by Tim Sales that was included with the CD set, Brilliant Communicator called “Non Fluff Goal Training.” He presented a procedure to accomplish goals by breaking them down into a plan that included projects that were broken down into tasks. I plan to listen to it again when I’m not in my car and can write notes on what I heard so that I can try it.

    I know that I’m an expert procrastinator for all the reasons you listed and more. I’m hoping to be able to break out of that pattern that I have allowed myself to continue.

    Thanks so much for doing this research. You have remarkable insight, especially for your age. I regard you as an expert communicator, teacher and relationship builder. You are creating a legacy that will outlive you and benefit many into the future. I know how fortunate I am to have you as a mentor.

  2. Procrastination is always an ongoing issue. It creeps up both in major cases & small issues. I have been evaluating areas in my life that I feel I procrastinate in. Sometime Procrastination happens because we want it to happen. Other time it happens because of forgetfulness. I had an experience this week that brought it to my attention and subsequently the answer to the problem.

    I had a quarterly review of my goals with my manager and as part of the process I needed to complete an electronic submission. I meant to do the simple process when I returned to my desk but people and an urgent phone call prevented me from doing it. By the time the immediate issues were done I had forgotten about the simple task. When I remembered to do it on the train into work the next morning, I did not want to forget it again. To remind me, I set an appointment for 1/2 hour after I was scheduled to be at work. When the reminder on my phone alerted me I completed the submission right away.

    What I found so important about this was the fact that we cannot always complete things right away. Some people put a string on their finger or write a note on their hand. I do not find that effective for me so I have found that by making an appointment on my phone calender, It is in my face and I do not have to remember what I need to do.

    I agree whole hearted that procrastination is a great enemy to productivity. I have found it very useful to take inventory of when I procrastinate and why. Just as with those forgetful moments, when we recognize where we fall short, we need to understand why we put things off and than put things in place to avoid it in the future.

  3. I try to help my husband with his procrastination. There is a list of things that need to be done around the house. All I have to do is plan a party or something of this nature. The list shrinks every time.

  4. Really enjoyed this article! Thank you for writing it. I’m working on a series for my clients about Overcoming Procrastination and can’t wait to share information similar to this.

  5. Tiffany Walke Peterson of Lighthouse Principles, has a “15 Minute Rule” that I just love. Often we try to bite off more than we can chew, as Ty has suggested,& it helps to break things down. Tiffany would agree. Do something, anything toward that goal for 15 Minutes.
    It works wonders and is obtainable!! Not so overwhelming and you feel good about accomplishing a task.
    Then depending on your personality, go on to the next task and take on another 15 Minutes….or maybe you’re the type that needs a little reward.
    But, identify the tasks…and remember “The Universe Rewards Action!”.
    Take action. Any action, but DO s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g.

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