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How To Overcome Procrastination NOW
First of all, let's get something straight. Procrastination is impossible. So why would you want to 'overcome' it?
"What?" I can hear someone thinking, "What do you mean procrastination is impossible? I do it all the time!"
To procrastinate means to put off doing something. But you're always doing something. Even when you're sleeping your body is rebuilding cells, eliminating dead cells and toxins, etc. It's totally engaged in the activity of rebuilding and cleansing itself.
Even when you're watching television you are performing the act of watching television. Things are happening. For example, you're programming your mind to be a consumer. You're body is metabolizing. If you're eating when you're watching television, a common occurrence, you're increasing your caloric intake.
You can not do nothing; you're always doing something.
So the question isn't "How do I overcome procrastination?" but rather "How can I make better decisions about how I spend my time and then follow through with those decisions?"
Before you can make the best use of your time you first need some basic information. Number one you need to know how to succeed. Once you know the formula for success, next you need to clarify your intentions, which includes your life purpose, your values, your passions, and your goals.
Clarifying your intentions makes all the difference in the world. Not clarifying your intentions is like owning a high performance luxury vehicle and not knowing where you're going or even how to drive.
Your physical body and mind are like the car: it looks nice and is full of potential. But by not knowing where you're going or how to drive the car you'll never get into first gear, much less out of first gear and into second gear and beyond.
Clarifying your intentions takes work. But it's the most productive thing you can possibly do because everything else that you do stems from your intentions.
It took me a little over 20 hours to complete my fulfillment pyramid back in 1995 and it wasn't set in stone. I kept refining my life purpose statement over many years.
It's not important to get everything perfect up front. What's important is to begin the process. Over time everything will become clearer and clearer. Do what you can now and be open and willing to change and grow/evolve over time.
Investing the time necessary to complete your fulfillment pyramid will create a solid foundation from which to build the rest of your life upon. As a result of going through the process you will automatically become more successful, happy, and fulfilled and the concept of "procrastination" will vanish automatically.
Everything begins with intention. Fuzzy intentions will get you fuzzy results. Clearly defined intentions will get you more specific results. If you don't take the time necessary to clarify your intentions, you're choosing to give away your power to "whatever happens." If you leave it up to chance, you'll get what the world wants for you, which may not be very desirable.
Part of clarifying your intentions includes goal setting. Once you have clearly defined goals, as fully explained in the goal setting section, you're ready to 'overcome procrastination' or more accurately, you're ready to make better decisions about how you spend your time and then take action on those decisions.
The Ultimate Motivator
Certain people can inspire you, persuade you, and convince you to change your thinking and behavior.
Mentors can be great inspiration. They can show us the way or at least a better way. Provided we heed their suggestions, they can cut our learning curve down considerably.
You can attend a live 'motivational' or 'excitement' seminar. But for most people the excitement usually wears of in a few days or weeks at most, and then you're right back to where you started.
Some people say Tony Robbins is a great motivator. But even he can't take the action you need to take on a consistent basis to achieve your goals.
After all is said and done, the only person who can truly motivate you is YOU. You don't need to be motivated. You were born with motivation. We're all born with the natural inclination to move forward, to get ahead, to succeed in our own unique way.
The problem occurs when we try to do something that goes against the nature of who we are. When we do this, we have to work at motivating ourselves to do something we don't really want to do, which is difficult.
A Big Piece Of The Puzzle
What's the solution then? A huge part of staying motivated to do something is to centralize your life around what you enjoy doing. Then you won't need to attend 'motivational' seminars or pump yourself up because you'll be motivated naturally/organically.
When you do what you love to do for a living, you're already motivated.
You have to answer the question, "What do I want to do when I grow up?" If you don't know what you were meant to do, then your focus should be on finding out.
I may repeat myself throughout this site, but repetition is the mother of learning. If you still haven't completed your fulfillment pyramid, when would NOW be a good time to schedule it and get it done?! Doing so will help you figure out who you are, what you value, what you're passionate about, and clarify your goals. It's all part of the process of choosing your perfect career.
When you don't love what you're doing for a living, you're less motivated to want to clean the house, pay the bills, or do the things that need to get done when your not 'working'.
But when you love what you're doing for a living, doing the less than enjoyable tasks that need to get done isn't such a burden, because you're vocation gives you energy rather than sucks it out of you.
So, do whatever you can to center your life around what you love doing.
Successful olympic and professional athletes practice visualization. Successful sales people practice visualization. Successful people in all walks of life practice visualization. Why reinvent the wheel? Do/model what successful people do and you'll get similar results.
Why bother with visualization? You're visualizing anyway whether you realize it or not. For example, when you have a 'feeling' to sit on the couch and 'veg out' for a few minutes or hours, I'll bet dollars to donuts you saw yourself — visualized yourself — on the couch before you actually sat on the couch.
We are 'cybernetic' organisms. What that means is that we move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts. If you think about sitting around all day watching television or indulging in other less-than-productive activities, you're likely to do that.
So, why not take control of what you're visualizing so you can point your life in the direction of your choosing rather than letting your life just 'happen'?
After years of study and research, we now know the ideal ratio of visualization to actual physical practice for peak performance. It is 75% visualization and 25% actual physical practice.
I know this may seem excessive or impractical. Fine! But try visualizing 25% or even 10% and notice the results. I'm betting your results will amaze you.
Why We Do Everything We Do
I've heard that there are only four reasons we do everything we do known as the four P's: profit, protection, pride, and pleasure.
I've heard different numbers from different sources in regards to this subject.
Then I studied Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). One of NLP's presuppositions is that there are only two reasons we do everything we do. When I thought about it, I found it to be true.
I like simple. NLP distilled it down to only two reasons we do everything we do:
Think about it. Why do you go to work? To avoid the pain of being homeless! Or because of the pleasure of living in your home, in your neighborhood, etc.
Why do you want the new car, new house, perfect relationship? Because of the pleasure you think you will enjoy as a result of having those things. Or the pain of living with what you have.
In regards to the four P's, Profit, Pride, and Please is to gain pleasure, and Protection is to avoid pain.
Interestingly, most people will do more to avoid pain then they will to gain pleasure. You can use this information on yourself to keep you motivated.
I loved playing the drums and wanted more than anything else on earth to be a professional drummer. At first I didn't like doing the boring, repetitive practice that is necessary to become proficient at playing the drums. But because I knew that it meant I would be able to do what I loved for a living (my #1 goal at the time), I was naturally motivated to do it.
I linked pleasure to doing it (being a professional musician) and pain to not doing it (working for 'the man').
I strongly recommend that you use this highly effective tool for developing and/or increasing your inner drive, motivation, and self-discipline. It's similar to "The Ben Franklin close" in sales. But instead of listing the pros and cons of making a particular purchase, you list the negative consequences (or disadvantages) of not taking action (pain) on one side, and the rewards (or advantages) of taking action (pleasure) on the other side:
You can download a printable form in PDF format here. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Take Control Of Your Self Talk
Just like you visualize whether you realize it or not, you also talk to yourself.
Why not be conscious about what you're saying to yourself on an ongoing basis? If you hear yourself say something you don't agree with or would like to change, change it!
What are you saying to yourself on a regular basis? Is it loving and supportive or negative and destroying? Be careful: you’re either blessing or cursing at any given time. What you send out (and in) comes back multiplied. Program only positive self-talk. When you make a mistake, say, "That’s not like me. I'll do better next time. Now I know what not to do. I thank the universe (or God, or higher power, or source, or infinite intelligence, etc.) for teaching me this valuable lesson."
Affirmations allow you to take control and decide what goes into your mind, rather than the world who might not have your best interest at heart. Sell yourself on yourself! Be your own cheer leader and best friend.
I'm not suggesting you become arrogant. Far from it! I'm suggesting you become confident in and believe in yourself and your abilities. Be the master of yourself. Don't wait for someone else to do it for you. If you do, you will have to wait a very long time and it will never happen. Don't be a "waiter"; be a DO-er!
Begin now to say these positive affirmations to yourself until they become a habit. Say them out loud with enthusiasm and passion. Don’t be a wimp! They’re more powerful when you say them out loud when you’re moving: walking, jogging, stair stepping, etc. You can create your own or borrow the affirmations below.
Here are a few of my favorite affirmations:
Chose the affirmations that resonate with you and discard the ones that don't. Create your own. Say your affirmations every day with strong emotion/feeling. While driving is good.
If you say them with no energy or enthusiasm, you will get poor results. If you say them over and over with strong feeling, they will have a positive impact.
How long to you have to say them? As long as it takes until they become habitual thought patterns and you believe them.
How you compose your affirmations is extremely important.
I used to say positive affirmations over and over enthusiastically while driving to gigs. It helped me program my mind to believe in myself and to be more consistently 'on' as a drummer. My carefully composed affirmation related to drumming was, "I consistently have an impeccable ability to keep time and play drums."
You become what you think about. Take charge of your thoughts and shape your destiny by consciously visualizing what you want and repeating the affirmations that support the life you want to live.
Chunk It Down
Break tasks down into smaller tasks. Henry Ford once remarked, "Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs."
For example, if you need to clean and organize your office, start with a corner of your desk.
Do The Hard Stuff First
If you have several tasks to do, do the hardest task first. Otherwise with it looming on the horizon and you'll be dreading doing it while performing the more pleasurable tasks. Reward yourself with a more pleasurable task after you've complete a less desirable task.
Go On An Information Restricted Diet
Turn off the radio and television for the next six months. Most of it is negative, anyway. If you must watch the news, limit yourself to no more than 30 minutes per day. Why watch the same negative stuff over and over (negative programming)?
Control your time. Use the tools: program your VCR or DVR (or TIVO) on Sunday to record the following week's programs you want to watch. Watch what programs you want to watch when you want to watch them.
Get Only The Information You Want/Need
If you need to stay informed about a particular topic, register for Google alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts
You simply type in a word or phrase and your email address. When the word or phrase appears on a new web site or blog you will get an email from Google with a link to the page.
Always have a book or reading file (of things related to your passions or goals) or an iPod (some other productive thing to do) with you during otherwise wasted time periods we all have, i.e., commuting, waiting at the doctors office, waiting on hold, etc.
Some people still have problems overcoming "procrastination" even after they've gone through the process of completing their fulfillment pyramid and tried some of the other techniques on this page.
They may find that they're still not taking the actions necessary to achieve their goals. For example, they may think that they "should be" doing "X" but instead they find themselves doing "Y", i.e., excessively watching television or playing video games or any excessive behavior that is not moving them in the direction of their defined intentions.
Common psychological reasons for "procrastination" include the fear of success, perfectionism, feelings of guilt, not feeling worthy of success, or failing to forgive themselves or others (living in the past).
If this is the case with you, then you may want to seriously seek a qualified cognitive therapist to help you overcome any conscious or unconscious self-defeating beliefs, thoughts, or behaviors.
If you have a chemical imbalance, by all means see a psychiatrist. However, short of a chemical imbalance, I would strongly recommend cognitive therapy over psychiatry.
Why? Because using drugs only treats the symptoms; learning how to use your own brain more effectively treats the cause.
With cognitive therapy you are conscious and fully aware of what's going on during therapy sessions. You will ultimately discover why you've been behaving the way you've been behaving. You'll be able to more easily and elegantly make the choice to change your thoughts and beliefs, which can be an incredibly empowering experience.
Here is my personal opinion about mind altering drugs. I'm not a doctor, but I did experiment with drugs in the late 1970's (I'm not proud of that fact; it is what it is). But it did give me first hand experience from which I've formed my opinion. (I gave up drugs and pot in 1980, but I don't judge anyone who cares to partake. I'll leave judging up to God.)
Any chemical or drug that changes the way I think, positive or negative, diminishes my ability to think and decide for myself. I don't like giving away any of my ability to reason to anything outside of myself.
Even if the drug (anti-depressant, for example) works for you, when the drug wears off you'll feel the need to use it again to control your negative thoughts. This leads to dependency. Then when you feel dependent on the drug(s) and ever find yourself out of drugs you'll freak out. You might even make matters worse by beating yourself up for freaking out!
People who feel more in control of their lives have higher self-esteem and are more productive. They are inextricably linked. Anything you can do to feel more in control will increase your self-esteem and productivity. I felt out of control when I did drugs. So I quit doing them.
Anti-depressants are meant to be temporary. I could site all kinds of studies linking anti-depressants to increased suicide rates and all kinds of negative side effects.
Sooner or later you'll have to figure it out using your own brain, your own thinking. Why prolong the inevitable? Ultimately you're going to have to face yourself and handle whatever it is that's bothering you. So why not do it now? Why not face the demon/darkness head-on and get it handled? One way to accomplish this is to blast the darkness of your mind with the light of mental clarity through cognitive therapy.
Cognitive therapy is your friend. If you need it, get it.
Where to go from here?
How To Get Organized Office a mess? House a mess? Need to de-junk and declutter? Need a filing system that works? Want to know what to do with everything that comes into your life? You'll find it all here.
How To Overcome Procrastination NOW How can this one habit determine if you succeed or fail in everything you do? Being a DO-er is the mother of all outstanding habits. Learn these powerful strategies that will enable you to motivate yourself at will.
Goal Setting Be in the top 3% of humanity who have written goals. Be in the top 1% of the 1% who have well crafted goals that are insanely effective.
10 Steps To Overcoming Perfectionism I used to have this problem. As a professional drummer, you have to be perfect — consistently, or you better find another job. I finally figured out that not everything has to be perfect.
Effective Delegation Quit wasting time and money trying to do everything yourself. Yes, you're losing money by doing things that should be delegated to others. Work smarter. Delegation is your friend.
Calendar Tips: Best Practices Low tech, mid-tech, high-tech? We've got you covered! These tips apply to any and all calendar options to help you improve your productivity.
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"A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life."
— Charles Darwin
©2010 by David Humes. All rights reserved in all media worldwide.