July 23, 2012

6 Ways to End Procrastination

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal
hanging on of an uncompleted task."
-William James
In both my personal and professional life, I have discovered a couple of things about myself.  I, at times, procrastinate.  My procrastination is not because I am lazy.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I spend hours working and preparing for whatever it is that needs to get done.  But for some reason I have a problem completing what I am engaged in.  I used to tell people, “I don’t procrastinate, I plan to do it at the last minute.”

pro·cras·ti·nate v. to defer action, delay, 
or to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost

Procrastination is hard wired into our culture.  Term papers, final exams, business reports, etc... are proof that as a group of people nothing will get done unless there is a deadline attached to it.  We are a nation of procrastinators.  So as a result, we wait until the last minute and churn out an awesome report or paper right before the deadline.

per·fec·tion·ism ​n. a personal standard, attitude, 
or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less

While personally researching this subject, I struck gold.  I discovered, at least for me, the root of procrastination was perfectionism.  I know strange, right?  I would never have imagined that my cause of waiting until the last minute was because I wanted the project to be perfect.  I would constantly redo a project, rejecting anything that was less than perfect.  So in order to cut down the tree of procrastination you must cut the root which is perfectionism.

My grandfather says, “No point in doing it, unless it is done right.”  Wanting something done right is a worthy thing to desire.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, once said, "Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough."  While we all want things to be done right, perfectionism does not encourage creativity.  In our careers, we may find our selves working for a company or institution that its goal is perfection.  They will never succeed because the people who work for them are to afraid to fail. 

While building my man cave, I had no extra money.  I did the best I could with what I had.  I used wood from some old fence for the flooring, desk and shelves.  The man cave looks awesome because it has character.  I put together the imperfect and built something awesome.

Family portraits are cool and sometimes necessary, but to be honest pictures that are unscripted are a whole lot better and more fun than stone cold portraits.  Beauty is in the unplanned stuff that happens.  Sometimes that stuff looks better, more authentic and therefore more beautiful.

If your like me, you hold yourself to some unrealistic standard and then punish yourself for not meeting that standard.  It is truly no way to really live.  Forgive yourself!  It Does not really matter what it is that you were supposed to do or didn’t do, forgive yourself and move on.  You would never expect others to labor under a false sense of guilt so why expect that of yourself.

You’ve met them, I'm sure of it.  The person who has a ten year plan and sticks to it like a squirrel to a tree.  Perfection for them is keeping the “plan.”  Not expecting that perhaps a special someone might come along.  The imperfect gets pushed aside and they find themselves older and still single.  Have a plan, work the plan but don’t be the plans slave.  People die, cars break down, accidents happen, arms get broken, TV shows you like get cancelled...that is what life deals so don’t be surprised.  Plan for it not to go as planned.

Ending perfectionism in your life will deal a death blow to procrastination.  But it is not a one time thing.  It is a process of constantly reminding yourself of these six things.  Your battle to end procrastination is fought by ending perfectionism.


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