Mon | Jun 21, 2021

3 proven practices for conquering procrastination

Published:Wednesday | May 9, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Glenford Smith, career writer

How much more valuable work could you get done if you ended chronic procrastination from your work life?

What is it really costing you personally in money, time, and even peace of mind to put off the important activities and projects you need to do? What is your procrastination habit costing your company or business?

For many people, the answer to these questions is, a lot.

That's because procrastination - which is the habit of putting off for later, important activities which should be done now - is a perennial problem. That's true for almost everyone at some time.

It's possible, however, to beat chronic procrastination. Every high achiever has had to skilfully overcome this dangerous enemy in order to skyrocket their productivity and success. Here are three keys they have used to conquer this most common enemy of success.

PRACTISE TO PRIORITISE

If everything is priority, then nothing is. Decide monthly, weekly and daily what you must get done. Write these down in order of importance.

Most of what most people fail to achieve is not due to lack of ability or intelligence. Rather, they fail for one reason: they never decide what they want and make it priority. Consequently, their days are controlled by what is urgent, or pressing in the moment.

Making a priority list provides clarity, direction and a sense of purpose. Scheduling your priorities is your next step. Unless you have a place and time scheduled to get important activities done, it's unlikely they will get done.

PRACTISE STRATEGIC EXCLUSION

Strategic exclusion is the art of consciously deciding to eliminate whatever will distract you from focusing on your priorities.

It is a self-evident fact that for every task you undertake, you must ignore all others. Yet, people routinely overcommit themselves as well as make themselves susceptible to many environmental distractions.

Their cellphones are always on and never more than an arm's length away. They check their email every time they get an alert. They make themselves available to anyone who demands their attention. With so much going on, they can't focus long enough on what is important to get it done. Procrastination results.

Adopt Dr Stephen Covey's excellent motto for effective people: Make first things first. Things that matter most should never be at the mercy of those that matter least.

PRACTISE DISCIPLINED FOLLOW-THROUGH

Nothing else matters if you don't do the task you've scheduled as priority. Engage the power of self-discipline in 'Just do it', as Nike's famous slogan says. Discipline is developed through determined practice, it is not something you're born with. Here are some proven tactics to help increase your self-discipline:

  • Visualise your end-goal in vivid details
  • Imagine how you will feel when you've completed what you used to put off
  • Have a personally meaningful reward for following through
  • Enlist the support of a supervisor, manager or respected colleague to keep you accountable
  • Focus on the interesting and enjoyable aspects of the task you need to do
  • List the reasons why you must follow through, and the painful consequences of delaying.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of a new book 'From Problems to Power: How to Win Over Worry and Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities'. glenfordsmith@yahoo.com