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Taking on Procrastination Today

Compare the progress of the person who got started on a project with the person who’s waiting for the right moment.

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“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”  – Abraham Lincoln

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We’ve all had those days when it seems like the best course of action is to wait until tomorrow.

We can accomplish anything tomorrow, right?

We also know the truth: We should put our head down and get things done because, after all, they’re not going to accomplish themselves. But still we wait, we put off and we procrastinate until what was once a task well within our power to complete has grown to the point where it’s now a crisis. It’s human nature, but it’s a nature we can control — if we have the will to do it. The steps below may be common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded to do the right thing, even if we already know what we should do.

Begin with a Win

Have one of those tasks that you’re not looking forward to? One you know will be difficult? One outside your comfort zone? Do the thing you least want to do first. You have the most energy and the most emotional stamina early in your day, so put that energy to work where it’ll do the most good. If you let an unpleasant task hang over your head, it will affect everything you’ll do. You can’t commit your mind fully to other work because part of it will be focused on what’s waiting. Get it done, get it out of the way and feel the success of having tackled the biggest job first.

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Judge Your Day

Having accomplished that big, ugly task, take a look at the rest of your schedule and structure your day to where you have the best energy to accomplish what remains. If you’re a morning person, do the jobs that require the highest energy expenditure early. You can then use the afternoon to do the things that still need to be done but don’t require as much mental energy. Likewise, if you’re the type to come alive after lunch, get the busy work completed early and then use your most productive hours doing your most important, energizing projects. We’re all different; recognize that and plan accordingly.

Perfection Might be Procrastination in Disguise

There’s a temptation to not take on projects until the stars align, all the pieces you need are at your disposal and inspiration strikes. Often, the best course of action is to just get started. Inspiration sometimes strikes only once you’re underway. You’ll see what tools you need as you go, and you’ll have a better chance of gathering them if you’re already in motion. As for the stars, they’ll never align completely. Compare the progress of the person who got started on a project with the person who’s waiting for the right moment.

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Big Journeys Start with Small Steps

If you’re facing what appears to be a monumental task, the idea of it may seem overwhelming. It can seem so overwhelming, in fact, that it seems impossible. Work that makes a difference often has a lot of elements to it and a lot of ground to cover, and can seem vast and overpowering at the start. The only way to get to the end of it and see it accomplished is to begin. When we fret and worry about something, it only grows bigger in our minds. When we start, however, and face it down, we begin to see ways to make inroads and break it down into manageable pieces. The biggest building and the most complex highway system started with the first shovelful of dirt.

Make Inertia Work for You

Newton’s First Law of Motion, also known as the Law of Inertia, states that: “An object at rest tends to stay at rest.” What we don’t hear as much of is the rest of that law: “An object in motion tends to stay in motion.” It takes a lot of energy to start from a dead stop. It takes less energy to keep things going. When you’re already in motion, you have momentum on your side. Get started. Don’t stop. Make inertia work for you.

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Susan Givens

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