One of the excellent e-zines I get comes from Eric Albertson. Eric gratitiously shares his wisdom about procrastination in the following abridged article.
by Eric Albertson
Beating procrastination requires that you put the familiar to use. Here’s how:
Key #1: Forget the big changes whenever possible.
Keep them at regular intervals, but small.
Key #2: Build and execute simple plans.
For example, when planning your day, just set out one or two simple things you want to do. Map out two to three steps in writing to get the task done. Take it in simple chunks. Now, just commit to working 10-15 minutes without interruption, and then stop and take a break by looking out the window or getting something to drink. Repeat daily for three to four weeks. You now have a million-dollar habit that crept into familiarity in your brain.
Key #3: If you try too much, too fast, your brain will identify it as unfamiliar, and will fight like the devil incarnate. Don’t be too ambitious with this if you are committed to success.
Key #4: Let your brain begin to realize that a simple plan equals easy success. A complex plan equals failure, much of the time, unless you have developed familiarity with complex plans, of course.
Key #5: Perfection.
Another human fault that enables procrastination is the desire for perfection.
Sending a person into space might require perfection, but little else does.
Give up the perfection. Gary Halbert was probably one of the top three copywriters of all time. One of his sayings was, “If it is worth doing well, it is worth doing poorly, at first.”
If you can just give yourself a timeline and release yourself from the responsibility of seeking perfection, you can get started, get done, and get on with life.
By the way, we know that those who go for excellence (not getting too worried about making mistakes) get far more done, and they get it done much faster than those who shoot for absolute perfection. Really.
Even though going for perfection rarely works, it is an effort that we are familiar with.
Key #6: Do the stuff you hate — first.
When you put off the stuff you hate, it often ruins doing the stuff you love. Dread of the hated task can ruin days, weeks, years, and, for some, life itself.
I hate to work out. But my work has me sitting on my butt all day, on the phone. Without a workout every day, I would have a very large butt for all that sitting and I would probably die of a massive heart attack way too early in life. I get my workout done at 5 am every day. No dread for the rest of the day. Yahoo!
Key #7: Mental conversations.
Action follows your feelings.
Feeling follows thoughts.
Thoughts are shaped by your mindset.
Your mental conversations become familiar, and form your mindset.
Procrastination is a lack of action. The formula above, maps out the fact that our actions, or lack of action, starts with a mental conversation about what is happening to us at any given moment. If we become aware of these conversations, we can usually guess where they are leading and make a choice that will lead to the actions we are committed to.
Procrastination is a choice that is made by the mental conversations we allow ourselves to have.
Key #8: Make your workspace more productive.
Keep your workplace simple.
Keep the things you need on a daily basis near at hand.
Everything else should go.
Take an hour each week to bring your space back up to standard. Your brain will love you for it.
Don’t let working in a disaster area become familiar.
Simple, clean and neat, is the secret weapon against procrastination.
Key #9: Visualization.
Finally, spend a moment or two visualizing the finished result of any task. Get it to the point that where there is some positive feeling associated with the visualization.
In some cases, you just have to visualize how happy you will be when a nasty task is behind you.
Key #10: Choices.
Procrastination, in the end, is a simple choice, or series of choices.
Get clear on your commitments, use the information above to the best of your ability, and make some choices.
There’s only one choice I hope you don’t make often: Don’t put off anything you have to do. Do it now, if it takes two minutes or less. If it will take longer than two minutes, put in on the calendar, and map out with that three-step, simple plan we discussed earlier.
You know, the one you are familiar with, from above.
“Reprinted with permission from Eric Albertson’s SucceedingInBusiness.com Newsletter. (Copyright, 1998-2007, Eric Albertson, SucceedingInBusiness.com.)”
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