Before I came overseas I saw a bumper sticker that claimed, “I put the pro in procrastination!” and I had to chuckle because I know firsthand how easy it is to put things off. It’s all too easy to say “I’ll do it later,” when it’s time to tackle something. Later often becomes tomorrow, and tomorrow winds up becoming next week, and then next week … well, you get it. It’s a vicious cycle.
Procrastination can cause headaches you might not even think of. Let’s say your cupboards are bare but don’t feel like going to the grocery store so you decide to go out to dinner instead. That’s fine, but a lot of times going out to dinner is so much fun and so much easier than cooking that you might put off going to the grocery store again the next day and grab something at a restaurant instead. Whew, that was a mouthful. Anyway, all that dining out will add up quickly (most sit-down restaurants charge almost 3 bucks for a Coke these days!) and you’ll wind up spending much more money than you normally spend on food. This can throw off your budget and give you less money to spend on bills or other necessities.
7 Practical Ways to Quit Procrastinating
Most of you know by now that I’m a huge fan of lists, so I’ve created a quick list of tips that might help you stop procrastinating:
- Write down what needs to be done. Break out a pad of paper and a pen and write down what you need to do over the next week.
- Create a detailed timeline. Figure out what needs to be finished when. You can write the “due dates” directly on your list, or you can write them on your calendar.
- Break your projects into smaller tasks if possible. I’ve found that breaking specific goals up into smaller mini-goals is really helpful as I try to achieve things. If you have to write a ten page paper for a class, figure out a halfway point so you have a milestone to meet along the way. It will be a lot easier to finish the entire paper if you know you have to get five pages done by Wednesday and another five pages done by Saturday.
- Prioritize. If your list contains a few items, rank them in order of importance. Your laundry needs to be washed, but mowing the lawn might take top priority right now because you still have enough clothes to last you for a few days and the grass is getting really tall.
- Stop making things seem harder than they really are. For some reason, I tend to procrastinate about doing stuff that really isn’t all that hard. It just happens because I’m feeling lazy, and like I said earlier once I put something off for a day or two it’s easy to keep putting it off.
- Remind yourself what’s going to happen if you keep procrastinating. You might get an F on a paper if you don’t hand it in on time, you might have to wear dirty clothes to work if you don’t do your laundry, you might get a fine from your homeowners association if you don’t mow the lawn already … tell yourself what’s going to happen because of your procrastination. Those are silly examples, but putting things off does have consequences—some worse than others.
- Just do it, already! Take some advice from Nike and just do it! Most likely it won’t be nearly as bad as you think.
When do you find yourself procrastinating most? Is it when there’s something more appealing that you’d rather do? Help me out, and give me your tricks to get stuff done! I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you.Take Action. Get Results.