The procrastination and excuse bug can bite everyone. Parents and kids can be heard chanting the mantra “I’ll do it later” when they have plenty of time and opportunity to do whatever they’re putting off today. Why is this so prevalent in our society and what can you do about it? Let’s spend a few minutes looking at these together.
Tackle the tough work first. We tend to have more energy and a better outlook on the day in the morning hours so that’s the prime time to embrace the hard stuff. Getting the tough stuff off your to-do list creates momentum and gives you something to look forward to about the rest of your day. It’s kind of like having to eat your vegetables before you eat dessert – nobody really likes to but we all know it’s good for us.
Turn big hairy projects into smaller tasks. Nothing makes me want to slump back onto the couch more than seeing a huge monster project on the horizon. Without these small tasks, you may never see your way clearly to the end goal. Breaking the project into bite-sized chunks lets you see real progress toward task completion without the obligation to finish the whole thing at once. This works for school projects as well – do a little bit every night and before you know it the job is done.
Plan your work and set aside time on your calendar. Things get in the way when you don’t block your calendar. Want to know where your priorities lie? Look at your calendar and your checkbook. That’s where your life is lived out. Being intentional with your calendar ensures that a minimum amount of time slips away wasted.
Remove the distractions or obstacles you know you’ll encounter before beginning the work. This can be simple in theory but hard in practice, because sometimes these distractions exist because we like them to be there. Knowing your weak spots can help you clear the clutter that gets in the way. That includes homework for kids; if they’re inclined to listen to music or something else instead of doing their homework then help them see that as a distraction. Talk to them about how it prolongs their time spent on homework and takes away from the time they have to do things they would rather do instead.
Apply Habit One from Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” – Begin With The End In Mind. The brain is a powerful motivator, and seeing the benefits and end results in your mind before starting to work can create imagery and motivation for you to work on a goal. Teach this to your kids by making statements like “Imagine what it would it be like if you …” or “Wonder how you might feel if you …” That gets the mind involved which gets the body moving.
Tell someone your plans. Once you expose that you’re working on something, you’ve automatically created yourself an accountability partner. My readers expect that they will see my blog three times per week so that motivates me to make sure I post at least that often. Having someone to hold your feet to the fire is a great motivator to get things done.
Change your thinking from obligation to opportunity. Seeing obligation naturally translates to a “have to do” mindset, and seeing opportunity creates a “want to do” atmosphere. Subtle as it may be, changing your language from “I have to …” to “I get to …” has a profound impact. It also affects gratitude and heart. Live this out in front of your kids with a change in language and see how they follow along.
Life is just a series of nows – the past is gone and the future hasn’t arrived just yet. Some say that tomorrow is the busiest day in people’s lives. Get into the habit of making today count and now can become your new favorite word.
Application Question – What assumptions do you make about tomorrow? Does your language indicate a tendency towards procrastination? Which of the tips above can you apply to your personal situation?
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