Procrastination has numerous damaging effects. As unfinished tasks stack up, guilt sets in and stress mounts. This can result in insomnia, digestive problems, headaches, or other physical maladies. Procrastination can also result in missed deadlines that cost you money and credibility. Not to mention, procrastination creates numerous open loops in your life demanding your attention. Even if you’re not consciously focused on these unfinished tasks, sub-consciously, they distract and drain you.
The 3 Golden Rules
- The One Minute Rule. When faced with a simple task ask yourself, "Can I accomplish this in less than a minute?” If so, do it now rather than waiting. This simple habit will train you to become an action taker. Procrastination is a habit. But it's one you can break and it starts with the smallest decisions.
- Schedule it. “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen Covey Whenever you think, “I'll get to this later.” decide specifically when later will be and schedule it. Treat that time like an appointment with a very important person. If for some reason you can't honor that time, immediately place a new time on your calendar for when you will tackle the task.
- Make it visible. Sometimes you only delay accomplishing a task because you forget about it. I struggle with this because I am an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of person. If that’s you, make your goals and tasks visible. I have different color folders for different tasks. I need this visual prompt or I forget about projects and tasks.
Another example, is to create a good old fashion goal's thermometer. For example, one time I was trying to increase attendance for an event from thirty people to sixty people. Doubling my performance was going to take concentrated effort that couldn't be crammed at the last minute. On a sheet of notebook paper, I drew a vertical bar labeled 0 at the bottom and 60 at the top. I kept this on my desk all the time. For each registration, I colored in part of the bar. I nailed my goal. That crude hand-written icon was the catalyst for my success. It was a proverbial string around my finger. A notebook page worked fine for that goal. At other times, I have drawn charts or recorded stats on my bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker. Make your goals as big and obvious as you have to in order to keep you moving.
These three Golden Rules practiced regularly will transform you from an action delayer to an action taker. As an action taker you will discover reduced stress, new found energy, and higher levels of achievement.
How to Apply it RIGHT NOW!
1. Make a list of tasks you’ve been procrastinating
2. Underline any tasks that can be done in less than a minute.
Set a timer for fifteen minutes and complete as many of those tasks as you can right now.
3. Schedule the next action step for any tasks that will take more than a minute. Be very specific. For example, if you've been putting off completing your taxes, don’t schedule, “Work on taxes.” Instead write, “Gather tax documents.” Or “Total business expenses.” Schedule the next specific action step.
4. Create a visual reminder for any tasks that you keep overlooking. i.e. Create a progress chart, set a reminder alarm on your phone, put a sticky note on the dash of your car etc.
If you've found this article helpful, then check out The 7 Minute Life's Starter Guide Series. This series contains four free guides to help you identify your priorities, discover your purpose, set meaningful goals, and put in place a daily action plan to fast forward you to transforming your life into a life you love. In just a few minutes day following easy to implement step-by-step instructions you can take control of your time management.