Ten Ways To Do It Now
Procrastination is letting the low-priority tasks get in
the way of high-priority ones. It's socializing with
colleagues when you know that an important work project
is due soon, watching TV instead of doing your household
chores, or talking about superficial things with your
partner rather than discussing your relationship
We have very clever ways of fooling ourselves. See how
many of the following excuses hit home for you:
- I'll wait until I'm in the mood to do it.
- It's OK to celebrate ... besides, I'll start my
diet (sobriety) tomorrow.
- My health problem isn't that bad. Time will heal
- There's plenty of time to get it done.
- Why does the boss give us so much to do? It's not
- It's too hard to talk about. I don't know where to
- I work better under pressure so I don't need to do
it right now.
- I've got too many other things to do first.
Once exposed, these
self-defeating statements don't sound so convincing. But, when we privately tell
ourselves these excuses, they seem quite believable. Don't be fooled by how
innocent they sound. They get us to postpone important tasks and duties.
Procrastination is a
bad habit. Like other habits, there are two general causes. The first is the
"crooked thinking" we employ to justify our behavior. The second source is our
A closer look at our
crooked thinking reveals three major issues in delaying tactics—perfectionism,
inadequacy, and discomfort. Those who believe they must turn in the most
exemplary report may wait until all available resources have been reviewed or
endlessly rewrite draft after draft. Worry over producing the perfect project
prevents them from finishing on time. Feelings of inadequacy can also cause
delays. Those who "know for a fact" that they are incompetent often believe they
will fail and will avoid the unpleasantness of having their skills put to the
test. Fear of discomfort is another way of putting a stop to what needs to be
done. Yet, the more we delay, the worse the discomforting problem (like a
patterns are the second cause. Getting started on an unpleasant or difficult
task may seem impossible. Procrastination is likened to the physics concept of
inertia—a mass at rest tends to stay at rest. Greater forces are required to
start change than to sustain change.
Rational Self-Talk. Those old excuses really don't hold up
to rational inspection. The "two-column technique" will help. Write down all
your excuses on one side of a piece of paper. Start challenging the faulty
reasoning behind each of the excuses. Write down your realistic thoughts on the
opposite side of each excuse. Here are two examples of excuses and realistic
I'm not in the mood right now.
Mood doesn't do my work, actions do.
If I wait for the right mood, I may never get it done.
I'm just lazy.
Labeling myself as lazy only brings
me down. My work is really separate from who I am as a person. Getting
started is the key to finishing.
Positive Self-Statements. Incorporate a list of
self-motivating statements into your repertoire of thoughts. Consider ...
There's no time like the present.
The sooner I get done, the sooner I
There's no such thing as perfection.
It's an illusion that keeps me from doing what I have to do right now.
It's cheaper and less painful if I do
it now rather than wait until it gets worse.
Don't Predict Catastrophe. Jumping to the conclusion that
you will fail or that you are no good at something will only create a wall of
fear that will stop you cold. Recognize that your negative predictions are not
facts. Focus on the present and what positive steps you can take toward reaching
Design Clear Goals. Think about what you want and what
needs to be done. Be specific. If it's getting that work project completed by
the deadline, figure out a time table with realistic goals at each step. Keep
your sights within reason. Having goals too big can scare you away from
Set Priorities. Write down all the things that need to be
done in order of their importance. The greater the importance or urgency, the
higher their priority. Put "messing around" (distractions) in its proper
place—last! Start at the top of the list and work your way down.
Partialize the Tasks. Big projects feel overwhelming. Break
them down into the smallest and most manageable subparts. You'll get more done
if you can do it piece by piece. For example, make an outline for a written
report before you start composing or do a small portion of the chores rather
than all at once. Partializing works especially well with the unpleasant jobs.
Most of us can handle duties we dislike as long as they're for a short time and
in small increments.
Get Organized. Have all your materials ready before you
begin a task. Use a daily schedule and have it with you all the time. List the
tasks of the day or week realistically. Check off the tasks when you have
Take a Stand. Commit yourself to doing the task. Write
yourself a "contract" and sign it. Better still, tell a friend, partner, or
supervisor about your plans.
Use Prompts. Write reminders to yourself and put them in
conspicuous places like on the TV, refrigerator, bathroom mirror, front door,
and car dashboard. The more we remember, the greater the likelihood we'll follow
through with our plans.
Reward Yourself. Self-reinforcement has a powerful effect
on developing a "do it now" attitude. Celebrate, pat yourself on the back,
smile, and let yourself enjoy the completion of even the smallest of tasks.
Don't minimize your accomplishments. Remember, you're already that much closer
to finishing those things that need to be done. Go ahead, get started ... NOW!
This information was written by Kent T.
Yamauchi, Ph.D. Reproduced from: Innovations in Clinical Practice: A Source Book
(Vol. 6) by P.A. Keller and S. R. Heyman (Eds.), Sarasota, FL: Professional
Resource Exchange, Inc. Copyright 1987 by the Professional Resource Exchange,
Inc., PO. Box 15560, Sarasota, FL 34277-1560
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