I had hoped to publish this newsletter on “Twosday,” 2-22-2022, but I’ve procrastinated myself right into Wednesday! In the meantime, I got a lot of reading done. I checked in with my social media sites and read a friend’s article on Substack about skyrocketing death rates. But ultimately I decided to address how to avoid procrastination. For many of us, it can be a persistent problem. Perhaps you also struggle with it.
How to Avoid Procrastination
Writer and author, Jerry Jenkins (of the Left Behind series) admits he still struggles with procrastination even after publishing over 200 books. His approach? He schedules it in. Knowing he habitually falls prey to postponing items on his “To Do” list, he builds in buffer time. But he only allows a little procrastination, not a lot. It’s like giving yourself one chocolate bar when there’s a whole bag calling to you from your desk drawer.
But if you build in buffer time, don’t do what I do. I’ve set my alarm to go off 15 minutes earlier than necessary to give myself extra time before work or church. But then I hit the snooze button — repeatedly. It erodes all my good intentions. But alas, we have to get out of bed eventually, right? And so at some point, I stop procrastinating and make it happen!
Mom finally motivated my Dad to clean out the garage. But instead, he saw the lawnmower blade needed sharpening, golf clubs needed cleaning, drill needed fixing, etc. Before he knew it, the day was gone. It might have helped if he’d tackled the garage in quadrants. Break the real estate up into sections, then only work one section each day. Otherwise the project seems overwhelming.
Along similar lines, chunk up your time. Rather than give yourself a longer period to get something done, break your day into one-hour or 90 minute increments. Then assign yourself a “hard break” at the end of each chunk — schedule a meeting, plan a phone call, go for a walk before the sun goes down — something that requires you to finish up on time.
I used to have a sign on my computer that said, “What is the most important thing you should be doing right now?” Identify the one big thing that must get done. Then (and here’s the sneaky part) eliminate the unnecessary. Rather than expand the time you need to get something done, reduce the number of tasks involved. Consultants do this all the time. If the client can only afford X, some consultants reduce the number of deliverables vs compromise on their fee.
More Ways to Avoid Procrastination
There are lots more ways to help you avoid procrastination. I found a ton of tips in this article including:
- Break your work into little steps
- Make lists
- Change your environment
- Create a playlist of motivational music
- Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines
- Don’t check email
- Turn off social networks
- Time yourself
- Track yourself
- Plan your days in advance
- Identify your non-negotiable
If you too suffer from procrastination, do your best to tackle it. Remember, people do what’s important to them. That applies to our task lists, friendships, nutrition and many other things we know we should improve on. But don’t beat yourself up if you can’t accomplish everything on your list. Perhaps you just need a shorter list!
A useful news source:
GoodNewsNetwork.org – “Good news is not in short supply; the broadcasting of it is.”
For example, read all about Colorado’s Andy Thorn and his music loving fox.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (one of my all time favorite books). “Essentialism is more than a time-management strategy or a productivity technique. It is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution toward the things that really matter.”
- “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” —Plato
- “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” —Mother Teresa, saint
- “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” —C.S. Lewis, author
- “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” —Bo Derek
- “When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” —Rodney Dangerfield