With today’s constant flurry of activities, it’s easy to fall into the habit of procrastination. People find it difficult to focus on things that truly matter because they’re afraid that doing so will bring about unnecessary stress and unhappiness. But the truth is, not taking the time for this focus is what causes more unhappiness and stress than anything else.
Because our most important tasks just seem to be constantly delayed in favour of less important ones as the latter are in front of our face in the moment or are far more comfortable for us to do, so, then before we know it, it’s crunch time. We are then forced to work on something because we now need it done urgently, right away and that is not where successful people spend their time.The true currency of wealth is not money, but time. Your most valuable asset and for most people, the most wasted asset.
You always have to be asking, am I ‘spending’ my time or ‘investing’ my time?
Procrastination is the spending of time at its best, and this is where we find ourselves spinning our wheels often and not really getting our most important tasks completed and never moving ahead in life especially at the rate we might want.
Roy Baumeister and John Tierney’s book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, offers a good strategy on how to counter procrastination – the ‘Nothing Alternative’. Their premise is very interesting;if you want to get yourself to do something, make the alternative to that task to DO NOTHING.
If there is a looming task, here is your commitment to yourself: Either do the task you know you are supposed to do or do nothing at all. No reading, no writing, no email, no other task. Literally nothing but breathing.
If you think about it, the ‘Nothing Alternative’ is indeed a powerful method of fighting procrastination. When you’re left with nothing to do, you begin to feel guilty of wasting your time, of doing nothing. When you start feeling this, you begin to feel the need to accomplish something, and instead of working on trivial things, you work on what you’re supposed to get done at that moment.
There is no better time to stop procrastinating than today. Challenge yourself, believe in what you can do and everything will fall into place. Take back today so you can ensure yourself a brighter tomorrow.
To further avoid procrastination, you may want to incorporate the following tips in addition to the ‘Nothing Alternative’ strategy.
#1 Stop Thinking and Start Working
Planning is such an important part of every major task we need to get done and if done effectively, can save you many hours or days of wasted time; but so many people spend a lot of time planning and feeling good about planning but then forget to do something about it. Set planning time limits for yourself and once that time is up, no matter where you are stop planning and start doing, and then take time to review. In short, don’t over think things, just do them.
# 2 Start with the Hardest Task of the Day
The hardest tasks to complete are always the ones we tend to delay. Not anymore. Whether it’s making that important phone call, writing a 5-page report, or sending an email response to an irate client, whatever it is you find difficult to do first, start with that. Once you’ve done it, you’ll feel significantly less stressed and you can work on completing tasks of similar nature. Dale Carnegie sums it accurately “Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.”
#3 Face your Fear and Just FINISH it
According to Denis Waitly,“ Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the “someday I’ll” philosophy.”
This is true. We are often afraid to succeed because in our heart we know that with success come new challenges and responsibilities.It’s time we rid ourselves with this misplaced fear – man up and finish the task, not tomorrow, not later, but right NOW.
We can’t change time, only our priorities and our approach to it. Getting things done versus leaving things undone – both key aspects of becoming a time master.
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