Overcoming Procrastination In Your Home Business
© 2013 Elena Fawkner
Well, it's Saturday again and time to publish another
edition of A Home-Based Business Online. It's also, I
realize, time to write an article for this week's issue.
Seven days have elapsed since the publication of the
last edition of this newsletter. Why, you may ask, did I
wait until NOW to write this week's article? Good
question. I'd like to say it's because I didn't have
a minute to spare during the week. But that just isn't
so. I COULD have written this article three days ago, but
I didn't. Not because I didn't have the time ... but
because I CHOSE NOT TO. And boy, do I regret it. It's a
beautiful sunny day outside right now and I could be out
there reading some more of Patricia Cornwall's Dr Kate
Scarpetta. Instead, here I am sitting in front of my
What's going on here? In a word ... PROCRASTINATION. Now,
mind you, I decided last week I would be writing about
procrastination this week and so I have done some research.
Just as well, you might say.
When I think of the time I spend procrastinating by, say,
reading and responding to email as it comes in rather than
allowing it to accumulate and dealing with it in one or two
sessions during the day, or making a telephone call or
making YET ANOTHER cup of coffee rather than knuckling down
and writing an article or updating my web pages or whatever
it is that I SHOULD be doing, I have to admit that I am
costing my business time and money.
What about you? Do you ever find yourself putting off some
task rather than dealing with it at the right time? Does
the need to rearrange the pantry cupboard or the tools in
garage seem much more pressing in the face of some task that
you really can't bring yourself to start? If so, like me,
you're falling into the procrastination trap.
So, why does it happen and what can we do about it?
According to one study, procrastination is caused by several
"cognitive distortions" or, in other words, perception
problems. These are (in the words of the study author):
1. an overestimation of the time left to perform tasks;
2. an underestimation of the time required to complete
3. an overestimation of future motivational states;
4. misreliance on the necessity of emotional congruence
to succeed at the task; and
5. belief that working when not in the mood to work is
Or, in our language:
1. "I've got plenty of time to write my article. It's not
due until the weekend." Right. Well
it's the weekend
now isn't it, and I STILL didn't do it.
2. "(On Friday) I don't really need to start it until
Saturday. It'll only take 15 minutes."
again. It's been half an hour already and
halfway through the first draft!
3. "I'll do it later in the week. I'll feel more like it
then. I really don't feel like it right now."
it's the weekend as I write this, I guess inspiration
didn't rain on down after all.
4. "I can't do a good job if I'm just not in the mood."
5. "I don't feel like doing it now and I shouldn't because,
in this mood, I won't do a good job." Oh,
WHAT a pathetic bunch of excuses! Time to stop
procrastinating and take action. Here are some action
change steps from "Overcoming Procrastination: A New Look"
1. Start with clear, measurable, achievable goals. For
example, I am going to spend 15 minutes each day
week from Monday through Friday writing the first
of next week's article.
2. Break the task down into bite-size pieces. On Monday
will write the introduction, on Tuesday the first
paragraph, on Wednesday the third paragraph etc.
3. Commit five minutes to getting started then DO IT! At
the end of five minutes, decide whether to commit
further five minutes, and so on. This is an
way to break inertia. Try it. I did,
and 5 minutes
turned into and hour and a half and a completed
4. Get organized. Create three files: (1) catch-up; (2)
keep-up and (3) get-ahead. Put the long overdue
activities you want to finish in the catch-up file
set aside time each day to work at the items in
file, checking them off as you go. In the
emphasize completing priority tasks as they arise.
the get-ahead file, schedule time to initiate steps
advance your personal interests. These steps
planning or activities.
5. Negotiate with yourself. When you are tempted to
substitute a low priority activity (such as watching
for a priority project, make watching TV contingent
doing part or all of the priority activity first.
watching TV will be an enjoyable reward, rather
Procrastination is unproductive and can even be harmful to
your best interests if taken to extremes. It is not just a
simple act of putting off until tomorrow what you could get
done today. Studies show that procrastination is a symptom
of self-doubt, self-downing, discomfort-dodging and
irrational guilt. In turn, the results of procrastination
can be a further stimulus for the erroneous beliefs that led
to procrastination in the first place.
So, break the habit of deferring action until a "better"
time. There is no such thing. If something needs to be
done, cut the excuses and JUST DO IT!
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Saturday, 17-Feb-2018 19:06:44 CST