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The essence of procrastination -- wrong priorities. Here’s what Wikipedia tells us:
“In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of lower priority, or doing something from which one derives enjoyment, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time.”
Perhaps, sometimes, we procrastinate to avoid people too as tasks may involve difficult-to-handle associates and in order not to confront them, we procrastinate. It’s just like what Dave says, the “pain”. Procrastination is not the ultimate solution but once there is a clue/the truth unraveled, there is a lighted path towards the exit.
You’d think that you’d only be tempted to procrastinate when you believe that you have plenty of time to get all your work done. But the truth is quite a different story. When I have one client waiting for a specification, another waiting on code, a third on help debugging a problem, and a fourth on a weekly article that I promised to some magazine, guess what I do? Apply software updates, read my feeds, chat with somebody, check Web stats, anything but work on what so urgently demands my attention.
On the other hand, when I only have a few well laid-out tasks to perform, then I’m ready to get them done and check them off.
Here are some action steps you can take to fight procrastination better (Secrets Of Fighting Procrastination):
Again, fighting procrastination is all about changing habits. But it is serious problem and is deeply entrenched in our lifestyle. So it is not easy. Relapses are possible.
The one-liners are memorable--and poster-worthy: --"Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement." --"Just find out what other successful people do and do the same things until you get the same results. Learn from the experts." --"One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all." --"Before you begin scrambling up the ladder of success, make sure it is leaning against the right building." (Stephen Covey) --"It only takes about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day." --"Resist the temptation to clear up small things first." --"Time management is really life management, personal management. It is really taking control of the sequence of events."
Here is one interesting review from Eat That Frog!- 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
John W. Pearson "John Pearson Associates" (San Clemente, CA, USA)
Procrastination Smorgasbord Antidotes, January 19, 2012Stop whining about your overwhelming workload--and listen up! Author Brian Tracy has good news and bad news for you. "...the fact is that you are never going to get caught up. You will never get on top of your tasks. You will never get far enough ahead to be able to get to all those books, magazines, and leisure time activities that you dream of."
The author and executive coach adds, "And forget about solving your time management problems by becoming more productive. No matter how many personal productivity techniques you master, there will always be more to do than you can ever accomplish in the time you have available to you, no matter how much it is."
The good news? Frogs!
He quotes Mark Twain's wit and wisdom, "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."
So Tracy serves up two frog rules and 21 ways to stop procrastinating and accomplish more in less time.
- Frog Rule #1. "If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first."
- Frog Rule #2. "If you have to eat a live frog at all, it doesn't pay to sit and look at it for very long."
Time management books are a dime a dozen. So what's different about this one--and why should you read it?
Instead of tasting the frogs, taste these chapter titles:
- Apply the 80/20 Rule to Everything
- Practice Creative Procrastination
- Focus on Key Result Areas
- Upgrade Your Key Skills
I recommend books that align with my 20 buckets (core competencies). They must also have alignment with the best leadership and management writers. The author references Peter Drucker, Stephen Covey and others whose works complement this must-read procrastination fix-it book.
My friend and mentor, George Duff, reads Drucker's The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (Harperbusiness Essentials) ("know your time") once a year. Covey's four quadrant diagram in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is mentally tattooed on my forehead. A look in the mirror reminds me: Am I focused on the correct quadrant? Several clients report that Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, by David Allen, has dramatically changed their daily productivity.
So...what do you read every year, especially in January, to keep yourself and your team members focused on Priority #1? Try Tracy's book. You can read it in about 90 minutes (117 pages)--and the 21 short chapters with two "Eat That Frog!" next steps are perfect for a weekly "Procrastinators Anonymous" self-help meeting. ("Hi. My name is John and I'm a procrastinator. Please pass the donuts.")
If you've conquered procrastination, you will still find the 21 strategies valuable--especially as you coach others. "One strategy might be effective in one situation and another might apply to another task. All together, these 21 ideas represent a smorgasbord of personal effectiveness techniques that you can use at any time, in any order or sequence that makes sense to you at the moment."
The one-liners are memorable--and poster-worthy:
- "Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement."
- "Just find out what other successful people do and do the same things until you get the same results. Learn from the experts."
- "One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all."
- "Before you begin scrambling up the ladder of success, make sure it is leaning against the right building." (Stephen Covey)
- "It only takes about 10 to 12 minutes for you to plan out your day, but this small investment of time will save you up to two hours (100 to 120 minutes) in wasted time and diffused effort throughout the day."
- "Resist the temptation to clear up small things first."
- "Time management is really life management, personal management. It is really taking control of the sequence of events."
Somehow, we always get payroll out on time! Brian Tracy's Law of Forced Efficiency says,
"There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing."
How effectively do you manage your time?
And finally, this myth-buster: The author writes, "Under the pressure of deadlines, often self-created through procrastination, people suffer greater stress, make more mistakes, and have to redo more tasks than under any other conditions." Have you believed the myth that you're more productive under deadline pressures?
Idea: buy a dozen books to share with your team members. Delegate to a point person who will recruit people for five-minute chapter summaries at each of your next 21 staff meetings.
Healthy LifeStyle (HLS) - Take Control of Your Life
Several months ago, I got slowly into the habit of becoming late. It didn't get too bad but I sometimes get 10 minutes late for a conference or 5 minutes late for a meeting. I sometimes scramble the last minute to make printouts relevant for a meeting that I arrange.
Without me being aware that this habit is creeping upon me somehow I got into this habit. Slowly I also got into the habit of getting to work in the morning about 15 to 30 minutes late. Even though I always stay late after the regular working hours, I wasn't happy with the new tardy me.
Once I realized about this bad habit I took several measures to prevent it from happening. In this article I will list the steps I took to make sure that I will get in time, every time.
A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. -- Albert Einstein
The most important aspect of changing any (bad) habit is the realization and the commitment that you want to change. This is so important that I cannot emphasize it enough. Once you made the commitment to change that habit it is really easy to take the steps to remove the factors that were leading to that (bad) habit. So the first and foremost is to have a very strong conviction and commitment to change the habit that you want to get rid of. The realization that being on time is a choice I make was an important part of this process.
Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing.
– Thomas Jefferson
Think about all the benefits
You should have a clear vision why or for what reasons you want to change this bad habit. For example to be in time every time is a commitment I made to myself due to the following reasons:
Being late is unprofessional, and I don't want to have such a reputation. I believe that punctuality is a quality that shows respect to others as well as to oneself. I don't want to apologize to anyone for being late. When I have enough driving time, I can be a generous driver stopping for other people or cars and not to be in a tense or hurried pace. It's how we spend our time here and now, that really matters. If you are fed up with the way you have come to interact with time, change it.
– Marcia Wieder Having enough driving time will keep me relaxed while I am driving. I can listen to my favorite audio programs or songs while driving. I can plan my day while I am driving or plan for the meeting I'm going to participate. If I'm the organizer of the meeting, there'll be enough time for me to settle down and arrange the required things for the meeting.
Focus on the time at which you need to get out of the house
Do not get fixated on the time you need to reach your destination. Instead calculate your commute time. Then add at least 20 minutes to it as a buffer. Then subtract this time from your meeting time. Now focus on this new time and make sure you get out of your house at this time.
For example you had to be at a meeting at 9:00 in the morning. You estimate your commute time to be half an hour. Then add at least 20 minutes to it as a buffer which will make the total time as 50 minutes. Now make sure that, whatever happens you will get out of your house at 8:10 AM.
Control the urge to become super productive
I had the bad habit of attending to some emails before I leave home. Sometimes I may assume that I could send a reply to an email in one or two minutes, but once I type it up and re-read it, it may end up taking 5 or 10 minutes and voila! I am late agin. Avoid this last minute urge to become super productive.
Avoid last minute distractions
Don't pick up the phone when you are about to leave your house. Let all non-emergency calls go to your voicemail. You can always return those calls in the evening.
If there are critical tasks to be done in the morning (such as putting the garbage at the curb for your once a week pick up), filling the dog's water bowl etc. then see if those can be done the night before.
Always make sure your car is ready when you need it
Fill your gas tank the evening on your way back home from work, instead of waiting to do it in the morning. Also, during winter time if your battery is struggling to start your car and it is a few years old, then go and replace the battery at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise you can get stuck in your office when you want to drive back home.
Don't waste your time searching for essential stuff
Are you an organized person? If not, then, designate a place in your house for your essential items such as your car keys, wallet etc., and put those things in their correct spot as soon as you get back home.
Even if you are not a very organized person, once you designate such a spot and practice this for a few weeks, it will become a second nature. If you have small kids, make sure these designated spots are out of their reach.
If you need to take specific items for special occasions (such as a metro pass when you want to ride the metro or directions to a new meeting location) make sure to assemble them the night before and put them along with another essential item such as your car key. This way you will not forget to take them when you leave your house the next morning.
Make sure to go to sleep reasonably early
By nature I am a night owl. I can stay late and work as much late as I want to. This is a big problem because, I will be so tired the next morning and I will try to extract the last ounce of sleep when I try to wake up. Result, I will be late for work! So unless it is a Friday or Saturday, I will make sure that I get to bed in a reasonable time.
Let others know about your schedule
If you work with other people, then you very well know of the following issue.
You have a meeting that starts in 10 minutes. It is on the other side of the building which requires a five minutes' walk. A colleague of yours just walked in and wanted to ask you a question. Being available to your colleagues is one thing and not becoming late for the meeting is another thing. Both are important issues.
Usually, I politely tell the colleague as soon as they walk in that I need to go for a meeting in 5 minutes. So if the discussion would take more than 5 minutes, I will offer to stop by their office as soon as I get back from the meeting. This way, my colleague is aware of my schedule and they can make an informed decision to talk to me for five minutes or to wait until I get back. This will also avoid cutting your colleague off after they started the conversation.
Carry a pen, small writing pad and a book or article you want to read
Finally, if you follow these steps, I can assure you that barring any unforeseen events, you won't be late for anything anymore. You will get in early for meetings and conferences. Once you arrive a few minutes early, having your pen and writing pad will allow you to effectively use that slack time. You can plan for your day. Jot down ideas and to do lists. If you have a book or article, you can catch with your reading.
I always carry a pen and a few index cards in my pocket. This will give me enough materials to use during the slack time.
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