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Procrastination is a subject that is very much linked to time management discussions and debated in many of the time management forums across the Internet. These discussions always intrigue me as I do not think of procrastination as a time management problem for most people. Let’s review the definitions of procrastination and what it means to procrastinate. See if this stays together as the article unfolds time management systems versus project management systems.
Procrastination according to Merriam-Webster is: to put off intentionally and habitually : to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done. This is a pretty clear and simple definition of the problem.
Time management systems are quite simply organization systems. You need a list of what you must accomplish over a certain time horizon, so you get it done. You organize your files so information is readily available when you need it saving you the time of hunting around for things. So by definition time management systems help those who are in motion. The procrastinator is not yet in motion. They have put off doing what they need to do. So logically, time management systems do not help procrastinators. In other words you don’t need a map if the trip has not started.
Causes of Procrastination
I think there are some simple categories into which most procrastination falls.
Pleasure/Pain Impact is Not Currently Felt Nor Imminent
In simple terms people are motivated to act by either pleasure or pain. If the task is very pleasurable to them the motivation is there and it will be accomplished. Clean your room and I will take you to the toy store is an example. If the task will avoid a lump of pain, again the motivation will be there. File your taxes on time to avoid a large penalty is an example here. If the procrastinator does not have the awareness to and mindfulness to project the pleasure to be enjoyed or the pain to be felt from their delayed action, they will continue to delay taking action until opportunities are lost and situation are uncorrectable. So in our examples, Dad lost his patience waiting for the room to be cleaned and left without you. In the pain example, you waited so long, that all the accountants in town are booked up and have no time to see you and there is no way you can get your taxes done on time now.
The feeling of overwhelm is one that can impact many people. Simply put, the task is so daunting that you simple defer it because you don’t know how or where to start. The thought of writing a 20 page research paper overwhelms you so you go out for a beer with your friends.
Cures for Procrastination
I find it funny that there are many cure procrastination programs advertised on-line with most of them asking people to take fill out lengthy questionnaires or read long books. Just what someone who has a procrastination problem needs is more on their plate. They probably have a bunch of reading and tasks to they have not gotten to, why do they need more. What procrastinators need are simple ideas that will get them focuses on the tasks they must get done.
The first tip is awareness. You must use awareness to bring the future into the present. You can only act now. By being aware now of the pain or pleasure completing a task will provide, you will be more apt to take the required action now to avoid the pain, or experience the pleasure. Think about the outcome and consequences of delaying action and what the future looks like with the actions undone. Play that as a movie in your mind like it was now. This simple technique will provide you the motivation needed to begin the actions needed to get started and to reduce the anxiety you are feeling knowing the task has not started. To quote DK Reynolds, “Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.”
As the old saying by Lao-Tzu goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Use this advice to break bigger projects down into smaller easier to accomplish tasks. A 20 page research paper is daunting, but a 10 minute on-line search for books on the paper’s topic is not. Take the whole task and break it down into smaller mini-projects in sizes that do not overwhelm you. Then schedule the tasks into your calendar leaving plenty of extra time for slippage of the schedule. This method ensures the project is done on time and in a manner that relieves anxiety instead of creating it.
Like everything else in life the cure to procrastination can be simple and effective.
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Being a perfectionist can make life very complicated, for one is ever seeking to attain the unattainable. Perfectionists often find it difficult to contemplate being otherwise, and yet the fear of not doing things perfectly can paralyze us. Here are some thoughts and questions for people suffering from perfectionism.
1. How much does your perfectionism interfere with your life as you would like to live it?
Does it make you happy?
2. You know that you cannot really be perfect.
Do you know that fear of not being perfect can lead to procrastination so intense that it may become paralysis? Even if not that extreme, it can lead to the inability to start projects, and the inability to finish them.
3. Did you know that the makers of traditionally superb Persian rugs always added a flaw to each carpet?
They believed that only the Creator can create perfection, and for them to try to do so would be unduly arrogant. The deliberately added flaw was an admission of their humanity and their humility.
4. What would happen if you chose not to be perfect – to accept minor imperfections in yourself and your work?
Would the sky fall? Would there be serious consequences? What would they be?
5. Who originally told you that everything you do has to be perfect?
Does the opinion of that person still have the right to run your life? To ruin your life?
6. We are in control of our lives to the extent that we make choices. Do you CHOOSE perfectionism, or does it feel more like a compulsion?
If perfectionism is not your choice, how can you move toward the acceptance of yourself as you are, including minor imperfections, as a conscious choice?
7. Think of the people you most like and respect. Are they perfect?
Probably not, yet you still like and respect them. Why should you think others would not feel the same way about you?
8. Think of the most perfect presently living person you know. Is this person fully perfect?
Is this person lovable? Is this person fun and comfortable to be around? Do you want to be like this person? Do you truly want other people to experience you as you experience him/her?
9. Think of the people you love most in your life. Do you insist that they be perfect?
If you do… what kind of a life are you pushing them towards? If you don’t… then why do you demand more of yourself than you demand of those other people?
10. Perfectionism often prevents us from bringing a project to completion.
Can you learn to think of each project or mini-project as a beta version, and bring just that version of it to completion? That way, you are not saying that you must accept it exactly as it is, but you have at least completed it, while knowing that if you need to you can revisit and do more tweaking again later.
Diana Gardner Robinson, PhD, has been coaching for more than twelve years and has built a reputation for integrity, insight and an intuitive grasp of client concerns. She specializes in coaching clients to transform their dreams into reality, sometimes aided by focusing on self-confidence, authenticity, balance, written and spoken communication, and/or creativity. Creativity and motivation were the topics of Diana’s dissertation when obtaining her doctorate in Social Psychology. She was recognized by the International Coach Federation as a Professional Certified Coach in 2005. She is qualified as a Confidence Coaching Graduate, a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach, and a Certified World Class Speaking Coach. Diana may be reached at Diana@DianaRobinson.com or visited at http://www.ChoiceCoach.com.
Overcoming Perfectionism by Roz Shafran, Sarah Egan, and Tracey Wade
When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism by Martin M. Antony and Richard P. Swinson
Being a perfectionist can make life very complicated, for one is ever seeking to attain the unattainable. Perfectionists often find it difficult to contemplate being otherwise, and yet the fear of not doing things perfectly can paralyze …
When perfectionism and procrastination play off each other you can be your own worst enemy. By freeing yourself from this complex process, you can better use your time to accomplish more with less stress. Here you’ll see a sample of how …
The parent teacher evening meeting was cancelled today as Georgina’s class teacher was off sick. After school we did some reading together and she tried on some of the new clothes she got for her birthday. Once George was packed of for a night at her grandma’s I hot footed it home to get ready.
I met up with my pals Sue, Alison and Kim tonight. We all studied law together at Northumbria Uni and moved into different legal fields. Myself public sector, Sue works in further education, Alison commercial law and Kim family law. We popped to Azzuri in Newcastle for an early evening pizza and discussed babies (Kim started her maternity leave today), work, coaching and the legal profession. When we discussed what we would like to do if we had a change of career we all said run a coffee shop / tea rooms so we had a really interesting discussion about what an ideal tea room would be.
We always seem to go to Azzuri but will probably change next time, I can almost recite the menu as it never changes and the staff were rather rude tonight interrupting our conversations and talking over the top of us. My latte was more froth than coffee so we laughed about that too. Having said that it is a nice place to meet up and there is no hassle to finish meals and leave as some places do.
I am now home having a home made latte with a handful of After Eight mints, yummy. Hopefully I will see Kim again before the baby arrives.
The definition of stress can mean different things to different people.
Many people have different feelings about it and have many causes for it as well. It can be hard to pin point just exactly what stress is, but stress is something that can affect the body and the mind of just about anyone.
Stress is usually considered the buildup of anxiety and pressures on any given person. There is only so much pressure that one person can handle and stress will occur when the person has had their fill of it. Stress itself is not necessarily a dangerous thing. A problem may arise when the person who is under a great deal of stress can no longer function, for example in day to day activities, and is letting it get on top of them.
Many people experience stress due to the job or career path they follow. Some people bring their worries and troubles in the workforce home with them, which will cause them to have a build up of too much stress in their life. This can mean that they are having a hard time dealing with pressures and may start to have mood swings or be depressed a lot
Some stress about work when at home and vice versa, and this may cause them to struggle more in day to day things as their focus is elsewhere.
Some people have too much stress at home. It may be because of a dysfunctional relationship with a partner or child. This can cause a person to loose sight of what they are doing and they may have too much to deal with at one time. This can be a reason for a person to have some difficulties dealing with their stress because they are not sure how to fix a problem.
It is very normal for people to have some form of stress on their mind. It is something that we all have had to deal with and we eventually get through it. However, there are some that cannot work past it and this will lead to more problems that can become very serious for them later down the road. This will include their emotional and their physical health.
When a person has too much stress, they must find help from a source that they can trust. It is important to get things under control so that the person will have a chance for a happy and healthy lifestyle. There are ways to control stress and deter your body from it. All you have to do is recognize when you are under too much stress and that you need to get help for it.