Are You an Escape Artist? Stop Killing Time

August 5, 2011

I didn’t procrastinate in writing this blog… No, no, of course not!  The theme of Procrastination came up at the beginning of the week because, well, I was procrastinating some tasks and thought I would do something about it. Now, here it is Friday, and I am writing this at the last hour… Hmm, I think I have a problem.

What were my excuses? “I have other things I need to get done first…”; “I still have a lot of time to get it done…”; “My mind is not in it right now…”; “Some other things have come up…”; and of course, my favorite rationalization, “I work best under pressure…”

Do any of these excuses sound familiar? How many times have you said to yourself, “Let me just quickly check e-mail or see what’s happening on Facebook.” This, my friends, is the art of distraction to avoid getting a task done. It is Procrastination.

We’re not talking about anything new here. Procrastination is a popular topic and the subject of intense study among academics, philosophers, psychologists, economists, and even comedians. Just a couple of days ago, Linton Weeks wrote an interesting article published in NPR titled, Procrastination Nation: The Out YearsHe wrote about how politicians postpone tough and unpopular decisions to be dealt with later in the “Out Years”.

If you’re a “get it done now” kind of person, you have an OCD problem – just kidding!  Actually, you will outlive most of us.  Putting things off to the last minute actually weakens our immune system. It causes stress, anxiety, resentment, and guilt. It can be a major problem in both our career and personal life. In the workplace, it can result in missed opportunities and decreased productivity. Personally, it can be detrimental to relationships by shifting responsibility to others and causing resentment.





Many of us go through life with an array of undone tasks tugging at our conscience.  So what can we do? Here is what experts say:

– Reduce your To-Do list and cut out anything that is unimportant. Be honest. Leave only what provides value, ask for help, and delegate when possible. Set realistic goals.

– Allocate sufficient time to complete the task. How long will it take you to get it done? Ok, now increase it by 100%.

– Exercise. Getting in motion raises your energy level; and with energy, tasks seem easier to “attack”.

– Break down a task into manageable segments and allocate a specific time period such as 30 minutes to get it done. After each completed segment, reward yourself with an activity or thing that provides you pleasure. By doing this, your tasks seem less overwhelming. You reduce them to small bursts of focus with rewarding results.

– My favorite: Take more time to play! Guarantee your leisure time by scheduling family, exercise, entertainment, and personal hobbies. Allocate the rest of the time for work. Benjamin Franklin said that the best strategy for productivity is to break down the day into 1/3 work, 1/3 play, and 1/3 rest.  Being fresh and relaxed equals more creativity and productivity.

…And now, on to the rest of my To-Do List. Do you have any other tips or strategies for reducing procrastination?

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