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Win the War Against Procrastination

Regardless of how much procrastination has affected your career or your efforts to enhance your education, you can turn the tide now. Remember, above all else, procrastination is a choice. You have complete control over how much you let it affect and disrupt your life. Consider the stress associated with maintaining procrastination. Is it worth it? Does it help your career? You know the answers!

The price of procrastination is always too high. The next step is up to you. What are you waiting for? After all, as Edward Young, a 17th century English poet articulated, "Procrastination is the thief of time."

There are many reasons people procrastinate, writes Mark Goulston, M.D., in his book Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior; among them, self-doubt, fear of failure, and the feeling of being unready or unprepared to take action. But these feelings, by themselves, says Goulston, do not necessarily lead to procrastination.

"Often what tips the scales is working through such obstacles along--with no one to help you, bolster you, or cheer you on, he explains. "You may curse yourself for being lazy, cowardly, or lacking in confidence, but your real obstacle might be loneliness, especially if you procrastinate mainly on solitary tasks." The key to overcoming this breed of procrastination is to enlist the support of other people.

Through research for his book and in his role as a life skills expert at, Goulston cam across many cases of loneliness-based procrastination.

"Every morning at 9 a.m., I phoned a woman who had delayed work on her Ph.D. dissertation for three years and asked her questions such as, "Are you at your desk? What are you going to do next? What will you do when that's finished?"

Whereas you might think it unnecessary to treat a responsible adult this way, says Goulston, it worked. "Like most of us," he explains, "she didn't mind putting up with some duress as long as she did not have to endure it alone."

Getting yourself to do something involves "selling" yourself on the benefits, says Polk. "Think about it. . .a salesperson wants you to buy (take action) and you want to make yourself work (take action)," he says.

While salespeople talk about benefits to get you to buy, the key to avoiding procrastination, Polk explains, is to sell yourself on the benefits of getting things done. Here are some examples of good things to think of when you start to procrastinate:

- Housecleaning: "I can invite people over whenever I want;" or "I will have peace of mind."

- Homework: "I won't have to worry about it;" or "I will feel great for making a good grade."

- Taxes: "The longer I put them off the worse I feel, so I will get them done and feel good."

And don't worry if you have to think these thoughts a few times before you stop procrastinating; it’s a common fact among those in-the-know about how messages sink in (i.e., advertising executives): A sales pitch must often be heard several times before it works.

"The good news is this," says Polk: "After only a bit of practicing these thoughts, you’re sure to get a lot more done!"

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