September 19, 2008

Procrastination and Motivation

TAPP Time Management  Book

You know you need to complete that big project. You know you need at least two weeks to get it done but you haven’t started yet and now you don’t have two weeks. Instead you’re searching the internet, or talking to a friend, or shopping, or watching TV and so on. The American Heritage dictionary defines procrastination as, “to postpone or delay needlessly.” So why do we sometimes delay doing the things we need to do? Is it because we don’t feel motivated?

When procrastination grabs us it uses its power to prevent us from achieving our goals or getting what we want out of life. It has the power to prevent timely decision making, starting or completing an important project, or making us feel less successful.

Planning ahead helps combat procrastination but you might have to take a minute to ask yourself why and when you procrastinate. Do you crave the excitement of the last-minute rush? Do you procrastinate on things that seem routine or unpleasant? Do you avoid starting something that seems overwhelming? Understanding when and why you procrastinate will help you overcome it.

I think it helps to think about the consequences of procrastinating. The consequences, of course, may be that you miss a deadline or drive yourself and everyone around you crazy trying to complete it at the last minute.

The consequences of missing a deadline could be that your credibility is impacted. People may lose trust in you if they think you are not a person they can count on. As far as driving yourself crazy, you may like the last-minute rush and it may increase your motivation because you have created a whirlwind of activity as you drive to the finish line. What is it doing to your stress level though? Think about the impact of stress over a period of time if you regularly procrastinate. Also, think about the people around you that now have to also adjust their plans to either assist you at the last minute or put their plans on hold while they wait for you. Doesn’t do too much for your relationships, does it?

So, when and why do you procrastinate? How does it impact your motivation? Alan Lakein, author of How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life has a favorite saying when you feel like procrastinating, “do it now!” Walt Dinsey says something similar “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” What saying works for you?

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