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Don't Wait Till Tomorrow to Read This

Democrat and Chronicle, 10/4/11
Dorothy Madden

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today."

Mark Twain offered another version: "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."

So who is right? Which philosophy do you follow?

Do you know anyone who procrastinates? Do you know anyone who does not procrastinate?

Procrastination in the workplace steals productivity, creates unnecessary stress and projects a poor self-image.

Here are some suggestions for overcoming procrastination:

Determine why you are procrastinating. There are many reasons people procrastinate. Are your reasons due to distraction, perfectionism, self-doubt, resistance, rebellion, fear of failure, feeling overwhelmed or something else?

Recognize and accept that you are doing it. Procrastination does not happen accidentally. It is real and intentional. Once you know the reason it is happening, recognize it and move forward.

Pause. Take action. Take a few moments to think about and focus on the project, its scope and the desired outcome. Determine what action steps are necessary to bring it to completion. They might include making a list, making phone calls, delegating, doing some research, or asking for help.

Write it down. The simple exercise of writing things down is therapeutic and takes the burden off your mind. Break your project into small, manageable steps and mark your calendar with a date and time to do the first three steps. Continue doing so after they are complete.

Avoid perfectionism. Ask yourself how good is good enough? At what point should you stop trying to do thing perfectly? Is there a simpler way to do it?

Change your ways. Once you are aware of your procrastination tendencies, be watchful and proactive to keep them from returning.

Just do it! You will be glad you did.