Magazine article Work & Family Life

Stop Procrastinating.Master the Art of Doing It Now

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Stop Procrastinating.Master the Art of Doing It Now

Article excerpt

Do you put off doing things that are really important to you? Do you sometimes feel anxious or guilty because you can't get yourself to do what you know you need or really want to do? Is your procrastination driving your family, friends and/or coworkers crazy?

Procrastination can take a surprisingly high toll on your life, causing stress, illness or low self-esteem. It can also keep you from attaining your goals and fulfilling your dreams.

The many faces of fear

You may not think of yourself as a perfectionist but do you put off things until the time or the mood or conditions are "just right?" It's important to realize that "perfect situations" will probably never happen. The first step in conquering a procrastination problem is to cultivate an attitude of "striving for excellence but not perfection."

To conquer other fears that might be causing you to procrastinate-fear of change, fear of success, fear of too much responsibility-ask yourself these two questions and answer them honestly. First, "What am I afraid of?" Sometimes simply identifying the fear and giving it a name can remove the power it holds over you.

Then ask, "What if my worst fear came true?" Making a mistake or looking stupid will make you feel bad but won't kill you. Whatever your fear, magnify it. Think of the worst that could possibly happen. You would survive it, wouldn't you? And sometimes it's not as bad as the misery and frustration you feel as a procrastinator.

The games people play

What if you have something important to get done or you'll be in big trouble-but you don't want to do it? Do you indulge in some form of what I call Hypocritical Procrastination? Do you become a Traveler, going back and forth to the coffee pot and the fax machine? Or are you a Perfect Preparer who needs to do more research, read more books or search the Internet once more before you start a project? Are you a Socializer who calls friends and colleagues you haven't spoken to in years? Or a Happy Helper, putting your own work aside in order to help someone else?

Once you become conscious of your style, you can watch for it. You'll notice, for example, that instead of preparing for a meeting, you're cleaning out your desk. Hypocritical Procrastination, in all its variations, has one characteristic in common: lack of focus. …

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