Five Sure Fire Ways to Annihilate Procrastination

by Firefalls on September 19, 2010

Sometimes I just think about the end result. Now I’m not saying that daydreaming isn’t a beneficial thing to do occasionally, but to spend your whole life dreaming means one thing:


Daydreaming is cool, it lets us imagine incredible things. I would venture a guess that most cool inventions evolved from a daydream, so I certainly don’t want to dampen any spirits by saying not to dream.

Here’s the thing, if you spent a quarter of the time you spend dreaming actually daydreaming and the other three quarters of your time doing, you would get infinitely more work done. I’m as guilty as anyone else. Believe me, I’m a bit of a procrastinator from time to time, but if I just thought about typing this then I’d probably still be thinking about it and nothing would have gotten typed.

So here is my five-step approach to break though procrastination:

1.    Just Do IT !!!

I don’t mean to sound like a commercial but “JUST DO IT” comes to mind. This may be easier said then done, but then again nothing will get done unless you just start doing it.

I find that once I do start I actually can focus on the task at hand and it keeps getting easier because every minute I spend working is one minute closer to finishing. I think the mind works like that, it finds a million excuses not to start but once you do start it starts finding reasons NOT to stop.

2.    Don’t worry about being perfect.

Here is something I learned while working for a Japanese company. Their theory went something like this: It’s better to give someone something that’s 90% complete so that they could start using the information rather than waiting until you make it 100% all finished and formatted with a nice little bow on the top. (yes I’m slightly paraphrasing)

I interpreted that to mean, if you keep waiting until you get it perfect in your head to start something then it never gets started, or by the time you do get around to starting you’ve missed the boat, whether by costing you money or that time has moved on and it’s not quite as relevant. When I first decided to start a website I ran out and read all about HTML, CSS, PHP & MYSQL… etc. and I will say I learned quite a bit about them. They are really useful things to know if you want to create websites but in reality I probably wasted close to a year of my life learning about how to do something rather that rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. I was more worried about being perfect and knowing everything then I was about getting started and that cost me time and money.

3.    Relieve distractions.

Yes, I realize this is much easier said then done but I feel it’s imperative to carve out some time and a little comfortable nook for you to work. Being comfortable and free from distractions is key. Even if you have to go to the library with a laptop for an hour  here or there or swing into Barnes and Noble during the day, find a place with as little distraction as possible. For me when I think of comfort it’s actually more psychological than physical, I like to know that all of my urgent issues are taken care of and that I can focus on the work at hand. I like to have my mind free of all the crap that can pile up in there. This allows my work to naturally flow. (some people use herbal tea or hard liquor help achieve this state but you can get there naturally by letting everyone around know exactly when you plan to work and then finding that place that works best for you.)

4.    Give yourself deadlines.

This can be very powerful stuff. Your mind will wander aimlessly if it thinks it has all the time in the world. By not having a hard deadline you allow your mind to constantly make excuses about why you’re not ready or why something can’t be done. Once you make a deadline (and be reasonable but not too reasonable on the timeframe) your mind will figure out a way to accomplish the task at hand in the allotted time, it’s what the brain does.

If you really want to drive home the point of having to meet the deadline then TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW. This makes it virtually impossible for you to miss the deadline and save face. So make the commitment with yourself and everyone you possibly can. Once you have it, schedule it, put it in your outlook calendar, create weekly reminders that will pop up and force you to push on and to keep making progress. You can also create a whole timeline for large projects where you have specific deadlines for portions of the project. Sometimes keeping large projects in small chunks is easier on the brain.

5.    Outline it!

When all else fails create an outline of your project. Start with the broadest objectives (in bullet point fashion). This can be done on a computer or a piece of paper. It does not matter. Start with the end in mind (wow that’s sort of ironic… I thought he said not to start with the end in mind) No I said don’t spend ALL of your time in the dreamland thinking all day instead of doing, but spend some time thinking about the end result. Next chunk it down into large chunks (the main bullets) then break each main bullet into “sub” bullets, and so on.. and so on… You get the idea. Break it down into the smallest component possible, usually a single task. This way the brain gets a victory for achieving every one of those bullets and sub-bullets. This keeps it fired up to continue producing results.

Ok that’s my top five ways to break through procrastination. I’d love to hear the ways that you fight this viscous beasty. I will post more methods in the near future but I’d love to hear your comments first.

Procrastination is something that affects everyone, and the ones that break through are the ones who succeed.


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