Stop Procrastinating Now!

Published Wednesday, June 16, 2010 11:34 AM

English humorist Douglas Adams once joked "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Easy to make jokes when being funny is your job but at most workplaces procrastination is no laughing matter. Time is valuable; if we spend it putting off important tasks, it's doubly-wasted.

So let's jump right in. Are you a procrastinator?

We all know what procrastination looks like: putting off until tomorrow what we should do today. Yet some forms of procrastination are more subtle. Often we busy ourselves with small tasks rather than tackling high priority jobs.

Do you ever:

  • Sit down to a critical task and immediately get side-tracked?
  • Say yes to unimportant tasks that distract you from high priority items?
  • Read e-mails several times without taking action?


If you answered yes (like I did) to any of those, you are a procrastinator. Need help determining if you're a major or a minor procrastinator? Mind Tools has a helpful Are You a Procrastinator? quiz

Why People Procrastinate

Recognizing you are a procrastinator is the first step in tackling the why-do-today-what-you-can-put-off-until-tomorrow attitude that derails productivity and decision-making.

So why procrastinate? Common reasons include:

  • Disorganization
  • Reluctance to tackle what is perceived as unpleasant or difficult
  • Absence of strong decision making skills
  • Fear of failure (perfectionists take note: this is most often your concern)

For a more in-depth look at the emotional and psychological reasons people procrastinate, we've collected some useful articles:

Tips to Stop Procrastinating

Now to the good stuff.  How to stop procrastinating once and for all.

To begin, set the stage. Visualize the unpleasant consequences of not doing the task. Empower others to check up on you; positive peer pressure is a motivating force. Once you've set up your stick, be sure to find your carrot. Reward yourself for accomplishing goals. What I have found is thinking about all the things I have to do causes 'mental stress', which magically disappears once the task is done!

Get Organized, Get Going

  • Keep a prioritized to-do list
  • Schedule your tasks and your time
  • Break projects into manageable pieces, do it step-by step
  • Give yourself realistic deadlines, reward yourself for meeting them
  • Tackle tough jobs first; they might be less unpleasant then you feared
  • Overhaul your decision-making skills  if you can't decide what to do first.
  • Practice your anti-procrastination techniques. It'll get easier.

Looking for more tips? We've collected some terrific resources:

So kick the procrastination habit for good. What are you waiting for?

Do you have road-tested anti-procrastination tips to share? How do you motivate yourself to tackle tough projects? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Candie Harris


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About Beyond Folders™

Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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