PART 1 - Managing The Day To Day (THE LITTLE STUFF)


By Karin Leonard

Since procrastination tends to be a very common complaint, we'll devote two articles to turning this enemy of personal greatness into an ally. We'll explore procrastination as the  day-to-day action stopper of getting things done and managing what is. The next article will focus on the role of procrastination in limiting the fulfillment of our goals and dreams.


When we're procrastinating it usually means we're avoiding doing something -- for all kinds of different reasons. Procrastination is a decision -- a choice to do something different than getting things done. We may be more or less conscious of that decision-making process.

What influences that decision? Maybe there are things we'd rather do and it becomes a matter of priority. You might prefer going to the beach over doing your paperwork and as you think about it you remember how much you dread sorting papers and how lovely it would be to bask in the sunshine. Well, with this motivational strategy, no wonder the beaches are crowded!

Now, let's try an experiment: As you think about sorting your papers (or whatever your example might be), focus on the result and not the process. So instead of the action that you dread, imagine vividly how wonderful it's going to be to finally have those stacks of papers straightened out (really, I'm not attempting to get the beach all to myself...).


Procrastination may also be an attempt to take a break, or trying to nurture ourselves. If so, make sure you consciously schedule time to goof off and just be. Or instead of waiting all day to reward yourself with doing something special, try doing something you love first thing in the morning.

Pace yourself on tasks that aren't intrinsically motivating like organizing papers. An easy way to do that is use a kitchen timer and set it for a limited amount, like an hour, and then really make a fun game out of the chore by seeing how much you get done in that time-span.

When following a daily to-do list experiment with time management consultant Alan Laiken's 80/20 rule: focus 80% of your energy on the 20% of tasks that will give you the most results. And do the most difficult or important ones first (preferably at your prime energy time).

Having an effective set of daily habits and following a schedule that "organically" suits your personality are also safeguards against the "P-factor".

If you're wondering where all your precious time disappears to, experiment with keeping a log of how you spend each hour of your day.  Track it for a week, then you'll have clearer understanding of your patterns and whether procrastination plays a significant role in that.

Beware of the perfectionism trap when managing procrastination. Sometimes we swing between the poles of either doing it perfectly or not at all. To build many options in between, begin acknowledging your daily successes: all the actions you take whether they produce results or not. Procrastination tends to feed on feelings of failure -- instead, regard all your results as feedback from which to learn.



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