My friend Don is a terrible procrastinator.
He worried over marrying his girlfriend for three years — until she finally moved back home to Texas and married her old high school beau.
Don also owns just about every how-to book ever written on getting off your patootie and moving ahead on projects — everything from Do It Now! to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination.
And you know what?
He’s probably procrastinating about which one to read first.
Don may be an extreme case. But fact is, at one time or another, most of us have trouble with starting or finishing jobs.
Here are five of the best tactics I know for fighting the problem:
1) Set deadlines you can’t weasel out of.
Some people suggest you set a deadline for yourself. Then, they say, you can’t procrastinate, you have to meet the deadline.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s easy as pie to miss, or even ignore, your own deadline.
But a deadline will work if you’ve promised somebody else to get a job done by a set time. So try to have someone waiting for your project.
2) Get rid of your need to be perfect.
Stop worrying about whether you’re creating the best thing since the iPod. Get the job done.
Of course, you should always do the best work you can, but go into the job willing to settle for “good enough.” Usually, that’s a LOT better than you think it is.
3) Identify the fundamental things holding you back.
When you understand what those issues are, you’ll be better able to come to grips with them and push forward on your project.
4) Reward yourself.
The old “carrot & stick” technique works, even on yourself — if you have the discipline to make it work.
Promise yourself that only after a segment of your job is completed — or after the entire project’s finished — you’ll do something fun. Like go to lunch at your favorite deli. Or buy that set of DVDs you’ve been looking at.
5) Find somebody who can help you get started.
This is no-fail, because you not only have someone nudging you to begin, you also have somebody you’re accountable to when it comes to moving ahead and eventually finishing.
P.S. For further assistance, amble on over to…
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