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By Sharon Jeon
Is your career activity waning while your social calendar (or at least your Facebook usage) is booming? Instead of completing your assignments or tackling your job search, are you convinced you need to tidy your room, go grocery shopping, or file next year’s taxes? Procrastination can plague the best of us, especially when other obligations seem neverending. Quit sabotaging your own progress! Use these strategies to overcome the hurdle of inertia.
Go to the source. Why are you really avoiding your work? Are you fearful that you won’t measure up to the responsibilities you need to face? Has your attention recently been pulled in multiple directions? You may be procrastinating as a way of putting off an unsavory task. Becoming aware of your tendency to avoid will make the next temptation easier to handle.
Change your pace. Procrastination can be a sign that you are feeling drained or overworked. Be sure to schedule breaks in even the busiest of days. Instead of pulling all-nighters or vowing to meet ridiculous quotas, set reasonable goals and expectations for yourself. If you must work through the night, schedule a five-minute break to call a friend and swap stories about your day. You may find that a change of pace is just what you need to recharge your batteries and boost your productivity for the rest of the evening.
Make a plan. You’re sure to become overwhelmed if you have a long to-do list but don't know where to begin. Write out a list of priorities, and figure out what needs to be completed first. The best way to do this is to organize events in chronological order—while you may want to decoupage your dinner table centerpiece for a Friday night gathering, you should figure out your guest list and mail the invitations first. By figuring out what needs to be done ASAP, you will expend less mental energy trying to multitask.
Know the consequences. You know that procrastination serves no purpose, and you know what will happen if you continue down this road. Think of the last time you procrastinated—did any good come out of it? No! Who wants to feel harried, confused, and frazzled? Most Olympic athletes use the power of imagination to envision success—try picturing yourself completing the assignment in a poised, timely manner. You feel calmer already, don't you?
Find an incentive. Give yourself a reward for each small step you complete. By setting up an incentive system, you may find that you are more motivated to finish your work. Delay your need for instant gratification until after you have completed your assignment, when you will be able to truly relax and enjoy whatever else is tugging at your attention.
Accept your shortcomings. Everyone has procrastinated at some point—even the most ambitious and driven person you know. Although you may not like the results you generate by not following through, what’s done is done. Recognize what you could have done better, and keep the lesson in mind for next time. Changing any behavior - good or bad - takes time, so be patient with yourself. The payoff will be a more confident, more serene you.