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Win the War Against Procrastination

By Kathy Simmons

" Procrastination: A hardening of the oughteries." - Anonymous

Ask anyone you know if they struggle with procrastination and you will most likely get a similar reaction--a sheepish smile and affirmative nod of the head. We all can relate to the temptation of putting things off--particularly those tasks we donít enjoy. Sometimes we even attempt to present this nasty habit as a respectable choice!

How many times have you claimed to "work better under pressure," or promised yourself to finish a task when you were "in the mood?" These rationalizations sound good on the surface, but in reality youíre delving in self-deception.

Sure, the adrenaline rush of waiting until the last minute might be exciting. Donít forget, however, these unwelcome procrastination by-products (none of which will enhance your career success): a higher chance for errors with less time to correct them, increased likelihood that unplanned events will throw off your plans, and less peace of mind as you carry the burden of unfinished business.

Although procrastination can be an ongoing battle, there are several weapons you can use to limit its influence.

Although there are many reasons for procrastination, including perfectionist tendencies, anger, and lack of discipline, the two simple culpritsólack of sleep and over-commitment--can be combated for quick results, states psychiatrist John Talmadge. "Not getting proper rest increases the chances we wonít feel ready to face challenging tasks," explains the Dallas, TX-based doctor.

"At the same time, good people over-promise what they can deliver; and then simply donít have the passion to give the commitment 100% effort." The solution, of course, is to get enough rest, and make promises to others sparingly. Youíll please them more with less commitment--if you consistently deliver on them.

Procrastinators play negative tapes in their heads when considering unpleasant tasks. "I really should do this", or "I must finish this project." Sound familiar?

Human beings are naturally rebellious when it comes to having to do anything. If someone barks out instructions to you in no uncertain terms, and you clearly have no say in the matter, your inclination may be to do a less than enthusiastic job--with more than a little resentment! Itís no different with self-talk.

Begin by phrasing a project presentation to yourself more positively. For example, instead of saying "I have to do this", try thinking in this manner, "If I complete this school project early, Iím going to feel so relieved. . . my professor will be pleased, and Iíll be able to move on to other things--with a clear conscience." Youíll find yourself operating much better with this positive approach.


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