A Spanish proverb reads, “Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.” Many people suffer from procrastination. Perhaps you don’t plan far enough in advance to complete your tasks? Perhaps you enjoy the rush of adrenaline that keeps you up all night finishing your work? Perhaps you believe that everything can be done in less time than it actually takes? If you’re a procrastinator, take heart – there are techniques to fix this problem. Let’s explore four of them.
Make Deadlines a Matter of Personal Integrity
In his book, The Speed of Trust, Steve. M.R. Covey declares that failure to adhere to the plan or goals you set for yourself degrades your trust in yourself, threatening your integrity. Covey states that every time a person fails to meet a deadline they’ve set for themselves, their trust in themselves erodes. When you don’t trust yourself, it’s difficult to trust others, which leads to weakened relationships.
How do you fix this? Make the deadlines and timelines you set for yourself personal so that fulfilling your goals becomes a matter of pride and identity. By making your commitments personal, you put your sense of self on the line, which will enormously improve outcomes.
Plan Your Work, then Work Your Plan
“Plan your work, then work your plan,” wrote Napoleon Hill, author of the seminal book Think and Grow Rich. This seven-word admonishment enumerates the clearest pathway to success.
Many people start projects by jumping right in, taking on whatever piece of the action feels easiest to accomplish. The process of planning can seem like a waste of time, especially when you’ve got more on your plate than you perceive yourself able to finish. Avoiding planning is a false economy. The time you take to plan can save you frustration. It can also save you from having to re-do work when you realize that what you’ve created doesn’t fit with the whole project.
Some people enjoy the planning phase but find execution difficult. Commit to working your plan, then start. Remember Leonardo da Vinci’s advice, “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” Once you’ve overcome the initial resistance, it’ll be easier to complete the plan.
Implement Mini-Deadlines and Use Technology to Help You Keep Them
Once you’ve made your plan, break it into mini-deadlines and put those dates on your calendar, with reminders starting at least a week before the deadline. Don’t dismiss the reminder until you’ve completed the deliverable for the mini-deadline. Snooze the reminder until the next day so it pops up again.
Use an Accountability Buddy
To create an even greater chance of success, engage an accountability buddy to ask you whether you’ve achieved each goal. You can give your accountability buddy your calendar of dates, and ask him or her to call or email you when the deadline is approaching. Knowing that you’ll have to account to someone else can amp up the pressure to finish the mini-goals on time, which will help you to execute the whole project on time.
By making deadlines a matter of personal integrity, then planning your work and working your plan, you can overcome the tendency to put off until tomorrow what should be completed today. You can also avoid continuing to identify with Rita Mae Brown, who said, “If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done!”