Do You Procrastinate?


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After talking with someone about procrastination yesterday, I woke this morning still thinking about it, so I wanted to share some things about it with you.

What do you have trouble getting or staying motivated to do? Perhaps it is the laundry, the stuff piling up in the garage or spare room. Maybe you delay doing your taxes till the very last minute, or you simply avoid certain people. Everyone seems to procrastinate on something.

A friend of mine, David, has been thinking about making some changes in his business for some time, a long time, 3 years. Beefing up his online presence has the potential to more than double his income – getting him closer to his retirement goals much faster.

Why hasn’t he done it? Asking him yields a slew of reasons and rationalizations, which sound plausible and rational but are not.

The number 1 reason: He is too busy – so busy that he’s looking to hire new people for his business. Given that moving things online would allow him to do the same amount of business in two-thirds of the time, we know this is not the real reason. Number 2 reason: He could not do it by himself and would need help making the move online. Again, given that he needs help already, he may as well get the help he needs to work smarter online and not someone to help him work harder offline.

Did you know that procrastination is not the problem, it’s a symptom? Asking a procrastinator about procrastination is like a doctor asking a patient to describe her headache. It only tells you more about the symptom.

The cause of the symptom is a lack of motivation. The word motivation comes from “motive” or “move.” Another word has the same origins, the word emotion and that’s because the meanings of the two words are closely linked.

Motivation requires you fire up some kind of emotion.

Whether you want to motivate yourself or you want to motivate someone else (say to buy your products or services?), it is worth thinking about whether you are igniting “feeling.” In the absence of emotion, it is so easy to simply stay put.

Getting going on something you have stalled on can be hard. Summing up the willpower can be a monumental task. It doesn’t have to be. Identify the problem the procrastination and you will be well on your way to managing it.

Here are 3 ways to triumph over the procrastinator in you:

  1. Problem: Overwhelm.
    Solution: Break the job down into small, definable, manageable tasks.
  2. Problem: Not knowing what to do.
    Solution: Get or buy the knowledge, skills, or tools that will enable you to accomplish the task.
  3. Problem: Disinterest (often applies to chores).
    Solution: Get really fed up with yourself – so fed up you are prepared to fight that procrastinator and show who is boss.

I do think procrastination is inevitable. We all do it from time to time. What matters is how quickly we recognize the problem behind the procrastination, because then we can shift our attention from the symptom and get into problem solving mode and turn willpower into willingness.
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