Overcoming Procrastination In Your Home Business
When I think of the time I spend procrastinating by, say, reading and responding to email as it comes in rather than allowing it to accumulate and dealing with it in one or two sessions during the day, or making a telephone call or making YET ANOTHER cup of coffee rather than knuckling down and writing my paper or updating my web pages or whatever it is that I SHOULD be doing, I have to admit that I am costing my business time and money.
What's going on here? In a word... PROCRASTINATION.
What about you? Do you ever find yourself putting off some task rather than dealing with it at the right time? Does the need to rearrange the pantry cupboard or the tools in garage seem much more pressing in the face of some task that you really can't bring yourself to start? If so, like me, you're falling into the procrastination trap.
So, why does it happen and what can we do about it?
According to one study, procrastination is caused by several "cognitive distortions" or, in other words, perception problems. These are (in the words of the study author):
An overestimation of the time left to perform tasks;
Or, in our language:
1. "I've got plenty of time to write my
paper. It's not due until the weekend." Well it's the weekend now, and I STILL didn't do it.
WHAT a pathetic bunch of excuses! Time to stop procrastinating and take action. Here are some action change steps from "Overcoming Procrastination: A New Look":
1. Start with clear, measurable, achievable goals. For example, I am going to spend 15 minutes each day next week from Monday through Friday writing the first draft of my next paper.
2. Break the task down into bite-size pieces. On Monday I will write the introduction, on Tuesday the first paragraph, on Wednesday the third paragraph etc.
3. Commit five minutes to getting started then DO IT! At the end of five minutes, decide whether to commit to a further five minutes, and so on. This is an excellent way to break inertia. Try it. I did, and 5 minutes turned into and hour and a half and a completed paper!
4. Get organized. Create three files: (1) catch-up; (2) keep-up and (3) get-ahead. Put the long overdue activities you want to finish in the catch-up file and set aside time each day to work at the items in this file, checking them off as you go. In the keep-up file, emphasize completing priority tasks as they arise. In the get-ahead file, schedule time to initiate steps to advance your personal interests. These steps may be planning or activities.
5. Negotiate with yourself. When you are tempted to substitute a low priority activity (such as watching TV) for a priority project, make watching TV contingent upon doing part or all of the priority activity first. Then watching TV will be an enjoyable reward, rather than guilt-ridden procrastination.
Procrastination is unproductive and can even be harmful to your best interests if taken to extremes. It is not just a simple act of putting off until tomorrow what you could get done today. Studies show that procrastination is a symptom of self-doubt, self-downing, discomfort-dodging and irrational guilt. In turn, the results of procrastination can be a further stimulus for the erroneous beliefs that led to procrastination in the first place.
So, break the habit of deferring action until a "better" time. There is no such thing. If something needs to be done, cut the excuses and JUST DO IT!
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Copyright © 2003 by Elena Fawkner
Edited by Michelle Jones
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