Don’t fool yourself that important things can be put off till tomorrow; they can be put off forever, or not at all – Mignon McLaughlin

The evolving of the New Year was stirring; filled with optimism and burning desires. The craving to launch out and take new grounds was red-hot, and you pledged to change your life by deliberate actions. But gradually, the hunger to do the impossible becomes watered down by procrastination, weak-will, doubt, and fear.

In a nutshell, you procrastinate when you put off things that you should be focusing on right now, usually in favor of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.

If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. In fact, many people procrastinate to some degree – but some are so chronically affected by procrastination that it stops them fulfilling their potential and disrupts their careers.

The key to controlling this destructive habit is to recognize when you start procrastinating, understand why it happens, and take active steps to manage your time and outcomes better.

Are you familiar with these?

“I’d do it tomorrow.”

“I’d do it soon.”

“I’d do it later.”

“I’d do it when I have everything I need.”

“I’d do it once I feel better.”

“I’d do it next week, next month or next year.”

Admit it, you’ve said those severally to yourself, yet, you never took steps. And that’s the reason you’re where you are. You see…

The harsh truth is:

Procrastination will kill your dream, cut down your productivity and leave you with less value. If there’s one thing successful people guide against, then it’s procrastination. There’s nobody who consistently procrastinates and ever became successful. And I doubt you can be an exception to that.

Here are smart ways to knock-down procrastination, get it all done and achieve your goals.

Break your work into little steps: One of the reasons people procrastinate is because they are faced with complex or unfamiliar tasks. And the usual question is: “Where do I start?” In the bid to figure out the easiest way to begin a task, most people postpone the commencement of such tasks.

The key however is to break complex tasks into little steps.

Hang out with people who inspire you to take action: Iron they say sharpens iron. That’s correct! When you move with folks who are passionate about their dreams, you will be inspired to work hard and get results.

Tell others [your friends] about your goals: Here’s how it works: naturally, you will put in your best effort to get your tasks accomplished when you tell people what you want to achieve. The very fact that you wouldn’t want to be seen as someone who’s not serious will drive you to achieve your dream. Your friends will also check on you, give you the necessary motivations, and encourage you to work on your dream.

Re-clarify your goals: When your dreams are not properly developed before swinging to action, it’s possible to get trapped, and become confused. This usually would keep you on hold for as long as you don’t re-clarify your goals. The way out of this is to grab your idea and strategy note, re-structure your goals and redesign your blue-print.

Get a to-do list [it helps, a lot]: If you’re serious about changing your life, if you’re ready to move out of procrastination and do away with inconsistency, I bet you need a to-do list. It’s one secret of highly productive and successful people.

With the increasing level of information at your disposal, you need to know exactly what to do, with a clear distinction between what’s important and what’s urgent. It’s this sense of importance and urgency that will drive you, shape what you do and keep you focus.

Here’s how to do it:

•    Write all the important things you must do, daily.
•    Write them in the order of urgency and importance

It’s important to discipline yourself to work strictly with your to-do list. Anything that will take you away from your to-do list is distraction.

Prioritize your activities; Put first things first: Habit # 3 in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. First Things First refers to putting the important things first before anything else. And why does this matter? That’s because there are 24 hours a day. 

There are about a million different things we can pick to do. Some will be important things that make a difference. The rest will be unimportant things that actually don’t make any difference at all. Out of this million things, we have to pick and choose, otherwise we’ll forever be drowning in work and never get anything done. Focus on the important and deprioritize the latter.

One question I use to filter out the unimportant tasks is “Will doing this make a difference in the next 6 months?” If the answer is no or a small yes, I put it aside. If it’s a big yes, then I give disproportionate focus to it.

Get an action plan [stick to it]: There is one thing that safeguards your success, and that is taking action!

The action plan shows you what must be done and explores the available time. You pick one or some of the tasks on your to-do list and allot time to them. Once you’re clear with your plan and your blue-print is in place, set an action time, and stick to it. No excuses! Get hard on yourself, and make sure you beat the deadline.

“Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started.” – David Allen

Don’t do it soon

Don’t do it later

Do it NOW! Yes, right now.

Let’s hear from you:  What practical steps are you taking to achieve your goal?

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