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Stop Procrastinating and Start Living

It doesn't matter who you are, procrastination can get you into trouble. It's very easy to put off things and take the attitude of "I'll deal with this problem or task tomorrow." But the problem is, unlike Little Orphan Annie's famous song, "Tomorrow," the procrastinator's tomorrow never gets here.

The reason why many people procrastinate is because they find it easier to think about dealing with an unpleasant problem or situation later. But your motto should be "even the longest journey begins with the first step." And you need to force yourself to overcome your procrastination and get the job done.

Figuring out why you are procrastinating is the first, and perhaps most important, step to overcoming it. If you are procrastinating because you don't like the task, you could delegate it to someone who may be more comfortable with it. If you don't have this authority, swap tasks with a colleague or friend. You'll be surprised by the things a colleague wouldn't mind doing in return for handing you a task that you don't find unpleasant at all.

If a project is absolutely overwhelming to the point where you don't even start it, break it down into small, specific steps. Do one or two each day. If you complete a step and are motivated to continue, fine. But if you're not, that's fine, too, because you have only committed to one small piece. Remember that a large project is nothing but the sum of several small projects.

If you know you can handle the project but just don't know where to start, start anywhere. Just do something. Write a title on a piece of paper. Then write something else. Eventually you'll be led to where you need to go. But it takes a bit of momentum to get the ball rolling. This doesn't mean that you'll use any of the material you start with. This is fine -- you need a good finished product, not a good first draft.

Another common reason for procrastination is perfectionism. Be aware that there is a difference between doing something right and doing the right thing. Perfectionists can spend their time on the wrong thing, i.e. hanging and re-hanging a picture on the office wall. Looks great, but is it getting you anywhere? If the task is meaningless in the long run, it doesn't really matter if you do it perfectly. You can still do it well, just don't let it consume you.

Change your procrastinating ways of thinking into productive ways of thinking:

Procrastinating Productive
I must ... (or) have to ... (or something awful will happen) I'd like to ... (or) choose to ...
I've got to finish... When can I get started on ..?
Oh, God, this assignment is enormous. Where is the best place to start?
I must do well (fantastically, perfectly). I'll do OK; I'll give it time.
I can't succeed. I have a better chance of succeeding if I ...

Toss aside your procrastination habit NOW, and tell yourself that you are a very good leader who has the management skills necessary to meet any challenge head on. Believe that you can stop procrastinating, and you can. Stop procrastinating and start living again. You'll be glad you did.

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