If you want to change any behavior, especially something as sticky as overcoming procrastination, you must have new behaviors to take the place of old ones.
Lots of people try to just “get rid of bad habits,” but the brain doesn’t work that way.
Creating a void does you little good. You need to clean out the old gunk and put in good stuff.
KEYPOINT: After you implement new habits, time will pass, and *the new chosen habits* will become more familiar.
And as you know, FAMILIAR is the key.
Your brain has to become familiar with the new stuff. It has to be comfortable in the new behaviors. When you get “there” you have won.
Plan your Projects…It starts here
To most people PLAN feels like a four letter word.
(You know, you stub your toe and yell, “Plan it!”)
Whenever you have a large project, or even a smaller project with a few components, you should plan like a good football coach.
If you have a plan of action, and you WORK your plan, procrastination will be pushed out of your Familiarity Zone. Then you literally find procrastinating hard to do. I know that I find it very, very hard to put off projects that have to be done.
Start with a plan that includes the most important stuff you have to accomplish.
Keep your plan simple.
Be sure that the tasks you plan to accomplish will get you where you need to go.
Most people spend 80% of the time doing the stuff that produces the proverbial 20% of the results. And they truly believe they are accomplishing something.
I don’t know anything about building a house, so, let’s say I want to build a house. I could choose to say start working on the door, the handle, the hinges. After all you need a door.
Or I could look at a house and go, “damn those are big things. Let’s draw a picture of what the place is going to look like inside and out.”
That seems a logical place to start. A simple plan. A blueprint.
Then if you want a basement you start digging (after you know there are no electric/sewer lines below). You probably dig a few feet further down than you need to go.
I haven’t even bought a door yet. But had I done so, it would have been a lot EASIER on my THINKING because it’s pretty cut and dry what has to be done. There’s nothing cut and dry about building a house in my mind.
So we pour cement or whatever and make sure it’s got drainage and stuff, then we put up basement walls and then build up with other walls, making sure there are holes and slots for wiring electricity and piping.
My brother is a carpenter so I don’t want to embarrass myself here. The point is you get the big picture and do stuff that matters first. The darn door can go on later. It does no good to work on the door today.
Don’t just write something down for the purpose of putting something on paper.
KEYPOINT: Write down stuff that is the BLUEPRINT of your project. Establish a plan that will help you achieve your goal.
Don’t OVER PLAN or you will be inclined to procrastinate because the plan will seem so detailed and overwhelming.
Some people never stop planning. That’s called procrastination which is the same as practicing for death. You have the blueprint, get to work.
KEYPOINT: Before time “gets away from you,” do at least one of the things on the top of your list so that you feel more productive and accomplished.
While learning this process of kicking procrastination in the a**, realize your brain will rebel. It has to. It’s wired that way.
THEREFORE: Do tasks in chunks. (say, no more than 10-60 minutes in length and *check them OFF* ) You did it! You got something done that matters!
If they are longer tasks, break THOSE up into smaller tasks so that everything is bite-sized. You need to SEE that you have made progress not only on the house but on the blueprint as well. Blueprint = house.
KEYPOINT: You are teaching the brain that the plan = results…now and on all projects in the future.
Be sure that each task has a target date (or time) by which you WILL complete the task (a date for those things that will take more than one day to complete).
Be sure you include break time and time for other types of activities so that you don’t get bored or tired.
Example: I just got back from a mile walk in the 43 degree air. It re-energized me after writing the first 1000 words of this article.
At the end of the day, take a minute to cross off the things you completed.
Also take the time to write down the things you want to get done the next day, or to change the plan you have already made for tomorrow, if that is appropriate. It’s OK to adjust the plan. That’s what a great football coach does.
Procrastination and Perfection
Unless you are my airplane’s mechanic, perfection simply doesn’t matter. Very little in life needs to be perfect.
People who are perfect don’t make money or get anything done.
I was reading a review for Paul McCartney’s latest album online. Some moron who knows too much about music is writing all of this, “his highs weren’t like they used to be,” and all kinds of similar critique’s.
What an idiot.
Oh, his review had perfect grammar, punctuation and was paragraphed perfectly.
Perfection pretty much… gets you nothing.
The best business and time managers know that you shouldn’t OVERDO! Do what is necessary to complete a task well and on time. And instead of overdoing, OVERDELIVER. Give people more value than they expect. Perfection does not equal value.
Think about it.
As mentioned previously in this series, you wouldn’t call in Michelangelo (you know the ceiling guy) to paint the walls of a four bedroom apartment!
When you are given a task, step back and look at the importance of the task and decide whether you really have to worry about this task being perfect, or whether you should just do a great job.
If you always strive for perfection and you accept nothing less, there is a tendency for the procrastinator to just stop in his tracks.
He knows that he can’t achieve the results he wants, so he does nothing until the last minute and then, when he finally starts and finishes the project (IF he does) he is even MORE dissatisfied with the results.
Do the Stuff You Hate…FIRST
If there is anything that has helped me be as productive as my reputation says, it’s that I do stuff I don’t like to do first. Then you always finish with stuff you LOVE. Your brain then associates project completion with love. Think about it. Who finishes projects when they save all the stuff they hate for last?
If you have a task to do and there are parts of the job that you really dislike, do those first and get them out of the way.
You will feel better that they are finished and will be revitalized to complete the entire project, knowing you do not have to look forward to this dismal activity.
If you have more than one task that you dislike, you can alternate tasks so that you are doing some of the things you DO like to do, among the tasks you DO NOT like to do.
This will be a kind of reward and yet, it will keep you going toward your goal.
Start with the task you dislike the most and then alternate enjoyable and miserable tasks until you finish the job!
If you have others working with you, see if you can delegate some of the tasks you do not like. (There are people who enjoy doing stuff I can’t stand!!)
If EVERYONE hates a task, this may not be a fair and equitable thing to do, but if you ask around, you may find that, some people don’t mind doing the task you hate.
Make Your Work “Space” More Productive
Right now I’m watching a McCartney concert as I write this. It’s from the tour I saw last year at the MGM in Vegas. It gives me energy, makes me feel good. Sometimes I take my eyes off Coffee for 30 seconds and my fingers keep typing. The better I feel the more I get done. The better the final product.
Now, if you find yourself going to the DVD for an hour, then you’re going to have to set up your work space so that you are not distracted.
If you work in a “cubicle,”face your desk away from the door to your cubicle so that you aren’t constantly distracted by people walking by or by things going on outside your work space. Chit chat will steal time from you need to get stuff done. There are people who love you at home that want to see you. You can talk to them…or Mildred at the office.
Take your pick.
If you can plan to make phone calls during certain times of the day, do so, and for the rest of the day send your calls to voicemail and turn off your pager. I don’t take or make phone calls except in rare cases. If you can avoid the same, do that.
If you like to work with music in the background, bring a CD player to work. Wear an iPod. If something gives you juice, turn it on! Chances are, your boss won’t care if you make him more money.
If ambient noise distracts you in a library or at work, plug in to your head phones and listen to your favorite music (just make it productive music that isn’t too loud or distracting).
Sip your favorite drink, and bring a healthy snack to munch on while you are working. This will ensure that you are not tempted to take too many breaks and waste time or get into conversations with others when you should be working.
Keep your desk and work space clean. Buy a few folders or files and label your projects or topics. File them in a file drawer or desk so that they aren’t all over your work surface.
If you want to find out the 12 patterns of self-sabotage and how to eliminate them from your life, (or those of your clients) you can pick up the CD program and workbook, Eliminating the 12 Patterns of Self Sabotage: Installing the Life Patterns that Overcome the Paradox of Love, Money and Happiness.
Lifestorms: 12 Obstacles to Achievement: The Paradox of Overcoming Self Sabotage to Achieve Love, Power, Money and Happiness.
3 brand new CDs in this program that comes with a BIG WORKBOOK! And now, get a free Lifestorms DVD presentation with your order!
Discover why life often brings you exactly what you don’t want…and how self sabotage can hide around every corner. Some people have guessed at the bizarre nature of self sabotage. Guess no more. Self sabotage is very real in everyone’s life. It is completely devastating and 100% resolvable!
- Do you ever know you should start on a project but don’t?
- Do you have projects that you have started but never finished?
- Do you ever say the one wrong thing at the wrong time?
- Have you ever had things going well in life only to have everything blow up in a day?
- Have you tried to be so careful not to make a mistake that you were shocked when you made a truly costly one?
- Have you ever promised yourself to stay out of trouble in some way only to find yourself in the same trouble or worse again?
Now you can discover your own life patterns so you can eliminate unconscious self sabotage immediately. This program will break the heavy chains that hold you from your dreams and your goals.
This program is the first program ever made public that shows you how to identify specific self sabotaging behaviors and negative life patterns. Better? You can ultimately erase those life patterns and rewrite new “schemas” into your brain that will allow you to meet your goals and experience fulfilling relationships.
Here is what you will learn:
- How to identify which of the 12 negative life patterns you live.
- How to find the triggers of the lifestorms that you just can’t believe you experience.
- How to change the self sabotage into success, happiness or something productive.
- How to remove almost all obstacles between you and your goals.
- How to understand those around you so you don’t push their buttons.
- How to predict your behavior and that of others.
- How to actually achieve your goals so they are more than just a dream.
No one anywhere has ever put such a program on CD. There is not one person anywhere who can’t utilize every minute of this insightful information. These three CD’s are packed with the most powerful tools for getting past life’s roadblocks and personal sabotage ever imagined. Anyone can utilize this information and I personally guarantee that if you follow the instructions you will not experience self sabotaging behavior anymore. Your goals become reality at speeds faster than you ever imagined.