How to Conquer

Do you -like many- find yourself putting off your chores for later, only to find your deadlines approaching as fast as meteors breaking through the atmosphere? Do you find yourself postponing things until the very last moment? Do you do this more often than not?

If your answer was affirmative to any of those questions, you are one of the millions of people afflicted by the habit of procrastination.

One thing that not too many realize is that procrastination affects not only your life but the lives of the people around you. Think about these two scenarios:

At work, procrastination is the biggest reason for loss of productivity, reliability and trust. If you are late submitting a report, all those involved in the project will be affected as well.

On the other side, procrastination is a frequent cause of discord and friction at home.

Really... how many times can you promise to help your spouse with their household chores before they stop believing you? Can you see how tension may escalate and create conflict?

When you think about it, procrastination is one of the primary causes of stress for you and all people in your circle of influence.

Thus, if you believe that postponing things indefinitely is affecting your life, your job and your relationships, you'd greatly benefit from tackling this habit as soon as today. Correct?

OK, you are still reading and that is good, but... where do you start? The good news it that since procrastination is a habit, it can be broken with relative ease - some say in as little as 21 days!

Too little time, you say? Think about this: when was the last time you put off your tasks until the last moment? Was it a conscious decision? For most, putting off their chores for later is not based on a conscious thought or desire. This is what makes procrastination a habit, and habits are easy to break once you become aware of them and get determined to change them.

Is it easy? Well... in all honesty, not always. It can be hard to get out of the groove if tackling your tasks in a timely fashion has not been a priority, particularly if you have been procrastinating for years and if the consequences for being late are things that you can bear with; but... if you want to improve this behavior of yours, then yes... it can be done.

With determination, practice and commitment, it is very possible to shake off your propensity for procrastination, especially when you realize that this habit is causing extra stress in your life. Who wants extra stress after all?!

Stop Procrastinating

The following five tips will help you become a more productive and reliable person, both at work and in your pesonal life:
  • Be realistic with yourself!

    Don't want to do something? Admit it! Most of us do not procrastinate when we have to do something that we love. Have you noticed? Thus, the first step to prevent procrastination is to acknowledge that the task we are postponing is something that we do not like nor do we want to do. Once you realize this, it'll be much easier to just start it and get it done with. Think about the alternative and you'll see what I mean: If you don't do it right away, you'll have to remember the undone task often (until you finally do it) and/or deal with the problems of not having done it on time.

    For instance, you may hate to mow the lawn. If you postpone it indefinitely, your back yard will look like a jungle pretty soon and the work will be twice as hard. So if you consciously acknowledge that you hate this activity but you must do it, it is more likely for you to do it right away and get it out of the way. When you practice this often, you will find yourself doing the stuff you don't like quicker and faster just to get it done and avoid the burden.

  • Lists are your best friends

    Keeping a journal will help you plan and schedule your tasks so that you can start them quickly and complete them on time. It will also be a place where you can write down and keep track of the tasks that you must accomplish in the near future.

    Make sure you have a "to-do" list for the things and activities you must start, do and complete every single day. And make sure you do not jot down too many things to do in one day. This journal will help you budget your time and resources realistically.

    One common problem is that procrastinators always feel like there is plenty of time to do a task... later. Acknowledge this and commit to tackle your tasks sooner rather than later. Also, once you start, you will be more likely to finish a task and get less concerned with "when" you'll be doing it.

  • Save the fun for later

    Many people put their work off because it is more attractive to have fun right now. If you find yourself thinking... "I'll just watch this movie and then do 'xyz'" -or something along those lines, you are more likely to end up postponing, getting stressed and living with the consequences of having procrastinated yet again.

    While it may be true that you may have plenty of time to accomplish your tasks 'a bit later', it's much better to finish your work first and enjoy afterwards.

    If you instead choose to take it easy and relax before doing your job, you will be more prone to stress and exhaustion, especially when you know you are heading towards your deadline fast.

    Also, you won't have something exciting left to look forward to after accomplishing a task!

    Believe me. Much like giving a child a star for a job well done, relaxation and fun are much more sweet and enjoyable after a taxing job, not before.

  • Do not underestimate time and resources

    Oftentimes procrastination sets in when you underestimate the resources, the difficulty, and the time needed to finish a particular task.

    For instance, if you have to clean the house because you expect guests later tonight, you may fool yourself by thinking along the lines of... “I just have to clean the house. It's easy, I'll do it in a jiffy.” The problem is, no matter how trivial the task, it'll still take time and resources to get it done.

    When you underestimate the time you need to finish a task, you will most likely be less prepared and set little time to do it; also, you'll schedule it too close to its deadline. This may cause stress as your guests may arrive before you are done with the cleaning!

  • Keep yourself busy - make it a new habit!

    Do not allow yourself to get comfortable doing nothing. Teach yourself to notice every time you have things in your "to-do" list and you find yourself wasting time. Commit to becoming aware of this! It will help you foster the notion that jobs accomplished now will mean more time for enjoyment and relaxation later. After all, realize that if you need to do something now, it will not go away if you don't do it. So get on with it!

    However, make sure that you do not become a workaholic doing things continuosly and compulsively. This is not a good alternative either. Allow yourself ample time to rest and to remove all thoughts of concern often and especially before you retire at night.

    The trick is to find the right balance, whatever works for you. Do not overdo your rest nor your work. There is a difference between taking a break and being idle. Always set a good amount of time to relax and rest while sticking to your work schedule. Lastly, remember to have fun too!

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