By Sheryl Nicholson, CSP
I know, I know…I should start an exercise program, I should fix that hole in the screen, I should take the car in for an oil change. Am I the only one that procrastinates? I don’t think so. It’s a topic that comes up often in my seminars. With some research and discussions with psychologists I was actually able to develop an easy formula to explain why we procrastinate and then tips to stop. Great right.
So I call these my items of procrastination and we’ll use an acronym of IDDM. Ready?
I = It’s gotta be perfect. People often come and tell me they’re going to write a book. When I ask how far they’ve gotten, they look like deer in headlights. They haven’t even started…because they’re waiting for everything to be perfect. If you are an avid reader, like myself, then you know — there isn’t a perfect book out there. Every book I read has misspelled words, or a page number missing, a page printed upside down, etc.
Solution: So what’s the cure? That old saying…”Doing something is better than doing nothing at all.” Get out of that paralysis and take a baby step. You’ll find you can take another and another!
D = Don’t tell me! Isn’t it interesting that some people can ask you to do something and it sounds like a request — while out of the mouth of someone else — we hear it as a command! I’ve found people don’t like to be told what to do from 2 to 62. How do you change a command to a request? Change your ears…and words. That is what I love about the power of language. Here I’ll show you. Fill in the blank I should ______. Now say it three times…feeling guilty? Feeling obligated?
Solution: Now change the word “should” to “choose” and read the sentence three times. Feel more empowered? So that’s the solution. When you procrastinate on something because you feel you heard it as a command, simply change the word and make it your choice.
D = Dessert first! I often procrastinate of things because they’re no fun. I like dessert not liver! And returning phone calls to me runs in the “liver” category! I understand fully why I don’t like it…being a time management expert — I know that if I call you and you’re working on something and I interrupt — it will take you 22 minutes to refocus at that level after my call. Emailing is my preferred form of communicating because you pick it up at your convenience. But I found I was getting a bad reputation for NOT returning phone calls and they began adding up.
Solution: Do the thing you’re procrastinating on in bite size pieces then reward yourself. So now I take 10 phone calls and return them…it only takes a few minutes — because all I get is voicemail. I’ve put the ball back in their court and then I go give myself a treat…it may be a cup of coffe, a walk around the office, a short dance to my favorite music…but it is OFF my list. Yeah!
M = Maybe it’ll go away. No it won’t! That thing you’re procrastinating on is like a big fat ugly toad sitting on your desk. You work around it all day, hoping if you ignore it, someone else will pick it up and deal with it…whty won’t! And you’re getting a reputation for being an ostrich…burying your head and ignoring the situation. That ugly toad will be sitting on your desk and on your things to do list tomorrow. So how do you handle this type of procrastination?
Solution: Eat a toad first thing every morning! You know the rest of the day is gonna be better after that! That’s right — the thing you don’t want to do — just DO it! You will feel accomplished and energized the rest of the day. Promise!
©2008 Sheryl Nicholson
About Sheryl Nicholson, CSP: CSP Sheryl Nicholson is an International Professional Speaker, Trainer and Author, and rated in the top 6% in the profession. She is considered a people productivity expert and her articles are published everywhere. For more information view www.sheryl.com or call 727-729-4937.