“Tomorrow is another day.” A quote made famous by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in the movie Gone With The Wind. In dealing with today’s busy lifestyle it’s so easy to put things off and echo Scarlett’s famous words. But what does procrastination really get you? You’ll always have competing priorities, things you don’t want to do but have to, and you may not ever get to the task. Delaying the action only means more stress and additional decision making without the satisfaction of completing the task in a timely manner. A few tips to help stop procrastination and get more done:
Assess Your Project – The greater understanding you have about what needs to be done, the easier it will be to do it. Whether it’s developing a marketing plan at work, organizing your garage, or figuring out whether your 8th grader will go to public or private high school; spending a few minutes thinking about the overall project will help you flush out the individual tasks that make up the project. Once you’ve identified the individuals tasks, you can create a list of the steps you need to take to get your project done.
Break It Down – A complex project like figuring out where your daughter will go to high school can be a complicated process. However, when you break it down into steps like, “Call Linda to learn about high school A,” or “Schedule shadow dates at school A, B, and C,” it seems less overwhelming. By breaking your projects into manageable pieces you can complete parts of the project in small pockets of time rather than looking for large chunks of time that you may never find in your schedule.
Know The Due Date – Understanding how much time you have to complete a project makes planning much easier. You can look at the due date and back track from there as to when individual steps need to be completed. For projects that don’t have hard due dates (e.g. Clean the garage) set your own goal and honor your commitment. Establish a reward or incentive for completing the project if you need extra motivation to stick to your plan.
Just Do It – You can often accomplish big things in small pockets of time. Set a timer for 20 minutes and begin working on one of the steps of your project. It’s amazing what happens when you dive in and start working. All that procrastination and worrying may have been for nothing when you suddenly realize the project was not as difficult as you had imagined.
Perfectionism is Not Realistic – A huge contributor to procrastination is perfectionism. If you can’t find the perfect solution, why even bother starting the project? Many of my clients delay organizing a space because they’re always trying to find the perfect container or believe the end result should resemble a Pottery Barn catalog. A well orchestrated photo in a home furnishings catalog is not real life and accepting a more realistic, “good enough” solution means the project is done and the client is happy. Your often your own worst critic so don’t let perfectionism impede your ability to check something off your list.
Get Rid of the Negative Thoughts – When you don’t want to do something, it’s pretty easy to come up with hundreds of excuses to not do it. Rather than spending so much time focusing on the dread of the project, take action and get started. All that time worrying and stressing over something you don’t want to do is often more time than it takes to do the project itself. Self confession time — Every month I put off writing my newsletter until the last minute. I see the deadline on my calendar and think about all the time it’s going to take to come up with an idea, research the topic, format the article, write it, read and re-read it, etc. Yet when I finally get to it, it never takes as much time as I had envisioned.
If you want to get more done, stop making excuses and start taking action. Yes, “tomorrow is another day“, but more likely than not you’ll have other things to do.
photo credit: New Day by Brett Jordan