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The Easiest Way To Stop Procrastinating
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The Easiest Way To Stop Procrastinating

There's an old proverb from my youth that extols, “Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” While humorous, that sort of procrastination rarely works with the reality of modern life. If you're a chronic procrastinator, then you're likely familiar with the stress levels involved when two or three of those procrastinated tasks become due at the same time. Do the days of procrastination make the days of extreme stress worthwhile? In most cases, it's far better to do tasks as they arrive rather than letting them pile up. If you need to know how to stop procrastinating, this article will give you a few tips to help, and believe me when I say I'm an expert on procrastinating... and on beating it!

Make a To Do List

This is the single most important step in the article today. Make a physical, old-fashioned to do list with checkboxes and all. When I found my procrastination was causing me to get behind at work, I actually created a weekly planner page so I could keep up with tasks and due dates. Every week I assign tasks to specific days, and I make sure I keep up with that list. If you prefer, there are many phone apps and computer programs that will manage a to do list for you, but for me, and many other chronic procrastinators, an old-fashion pen and paper list works best. I think it's because it lends a sense of permanence to the list when it's made. If I alter it to further move tasks to later in the week, I have to physically strike through the task on the original day and re-write it. This forces me to look at my habits, and helps with accountability. If I've already put off one or two tasks, I can see that, and I become less likely to reschedule others.

Do the Hard Stuff First

Inevitably, many items on your to do list will be quick and easy tasks, and the temptation to do them quickly so you can have the satisfaction of striking them off the list will be strong. However, if you spend all of your time on these tiny tasks, the larger, more difficult tasks will inevitably end up being pushed away again. To combat this, make a decisive effort to attack the largest tasks first. It may take more time, and you may feel like the small tasks are getting neglected, but believe me: finish the big task first, even if it takes your entire day. The smaller tasks are far easier to catch up on, and the satisfaction that comes with ticking off that monster job is well worth the extra effort.

The Two Minute Rule

Small tasks and huge tasks are easily managed in the above rule, but many items on your to do list will be annoying middle-of-the-road jobs. When you consider putting off one of these tasks, stop and consider – will I be able to do this in two minutes? You'd be surprised how many tasks can be completed in as little as 120 seconds. Give these projects that 120 seconds of dedicated work, and you may be shocked to find that you can finish many, many things in that seemingly short interval of time. A mere 120 seconds vs. days of procrastination? That's an easy choice.

10 Minute Frenzy, 10 Minute Breaks

When you find yourself getting distracted by Facebook, Email, texts, etc., take a moment to focus. Close all your other browser windows, set the phones to silent, and give yourself ten minutes of intense, uninterrupted work. Often you'll hit a surge of productivity that extends well beyond this ten minute period. Conversely, sometimes a ten minute break to indulge those temptations is all you need to exorcise that demon and get back to productivity.

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