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Fri, Feb. 21

Procrastination: Move beyond the rut and get motivated - Part 2

In last week's article, a client asked: "I've been in business for several years and enjoy what I do, but find myself postponing routine or mundane tasks. I've tried different ways to get motivated, but slip right back into procrastination. Can SCORE offer any solid suggestions to get me beyond this?"

In the previous article, we said that procrastination drains a person of energy, robs companies of opportunities, affects income, and causes the demise of careers. Everyone tends to put some tedious or unpleasant task off from time to time. It is how you deal with the tendency and how you redirect your energies that determine whether your procrastination is a temporary blip or a major issue that seriously affects your productivity.

In the article by Donald L. Caruth, Ph. D., and Gail D. Handlogten-Caruth writing for www.winstonbrill.com, the Caruths conclude that, "Being afflicted with procrastination, however, is not a crime. Failure to do something about it is. What can you do to overcome the problem? Consider the following actions."

The seven underlying causes of procrastination, listed in the last article, have corresponding solutions:

1. Recognize the problem. When you are procrastinating, recognize it and freely admit it. Do not try to rationalize. Do not try to fool yourself into believing that you are actually waiting for more data, the right moment, or a sufficiently large block of time to tackle a task when, in fact, none of these things are true. When you are procrastinating, simply admit it and acknowledge it. But then commit yourself to doing something about it.

2. Examine your reasons. Once you have gotten your procrastination out into the open and acknowledged it, ask yourself why are you avoiding action? Is your reason valid or is it just an excuse? Or lack of priorities? Chances are you are procrastinating because you have created your own excuses for inaction. Recognize that they are excuses, not reasons; throw them out; and get to work!

3. Do not feel guilty. When procrastinating for a valid reason (but make certain it is a good reason), do not feel guilty about it. There are times when delay is the best approach to take to an activity. If you are putting off doing something that stands up under careful scrutiny, do not mentally flagellate yourself for your inaction. Feeling guilty will only make matters worse.

4. Keep your priorities straight. You must at all times keep the truly important pursuits clearly separated from the really unimportant activities. Know what has to be done and when it needs to be done. Remember, there is always time to do the most important things in life, if you but know what is really important. If you do not know how to assign priorities, make it your number one priority to learn how to do so.

5. Do not put yourself down. Never underestimate your talents and abilities to the point where you are afraid to attempt a task. You are always capable of doing more than you think. Even if you fail at a task, don't let that become an excuse for future procrastination. Don't think less of yourself, just get up and try again until you succeed.

6. Do the difficult first. A task does not get easier, less messy, or more enjoyable because you delay doing it. In fact, many jobs get more difficult the longer they are postponed. Doing the hardest project first does, however, get it out of the way. And that makes the "fun" things more enjoyable when you get around to them.

7. Reward yourself. When you have undertaken and successfully completed a task without procrastinating, reward yourself. Onerous tasks of the future will not appear as dreadful if you reward yourself for prompt performance in the present.

If you feel you are still struggling with procrastination issues, have a heart to heart with your SCORE counselor. Your counselor is there to help and guide you to business success.

Northern Arizona SCORE is offering a workshop on the best strategies of social media presented by Lon Safko, author of "The Social Media Bible," July 21 at Prescott Adult Center. Cost is $49.95 and includes an autographed book. Reservations: 778-7438, http://northernarizona.score.org/localworkshops, scoreoffice@scorenaz.org.

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