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How I Overcame My Long Battle With Procrastination: Here’s My 10 Tips


My 10 Tips For Avoiding Procrastination

I remember reading this quote by Jack Canfield writer of the book Chicken Soup For The Soul

“The principles always work if you work the principles”.

And I thought to myself.. “This is quite a simple statement, can it really be that easy?”

That was 15 years ago and yes it was that simple! Since learning the principles to changing my life and living out my life with passion and meaning, I’ve come to the beautiful understanding that ” Life principles work if we’re willing to work the principles”.

So today! on self care Monday I would like to pill it back a little and just share with you from my daily devotional diary the simple principles I learnt 15 years ago to help me overcome my long battle with Procrastination. I truly hope it helps you in some way if you’re feeling stuck right now with your life.


Tip # 1 Everything starts and ends with the self

The first principle has to always start from within. Just imagine if someone said to you that you were a procrastinator, your immediate reaction would be to defend yourself. “It’s her fault”, “My mother was like that too”, “I was forced to do something I didn’t want to do”.

Rachael Aprill Phillips

Some people like to blame their misfortunes on others, nothing to be ashamed about I use to do it and many others after me will do it too. But the truth is, we’re equally at fault. We procrastinate because we ourselves choose to procrastinate. The sooner we accept that, the better we’ll be able to overcome procrastination.

Tip # 2 I want NOT to procrastinate anymore

When beginning my journey with my new found life principles one of the most exhilarating! things I learnt was “That I had a choice”. A choice on the kind of life I wanted. In line with tip # 1 above, once we accept that procrastination is our weakness, the next step is to eliminate this weakness.

Your desire not to procrastinate anymore should be sincere. You need to demonstrate that determination through small daily gestures.

Tip # 3 Mea Culpa-Take Responsibility

You’ve accepted the fact that (a) you’re a procrastinator, and (b) you have a sincere desire to change. Now tell yourself that if you fail to achieve a particular goal or a given task, it’s because you procrastinated.

Mea culpa. Admitting guilt is a giant step. Note, however, that there is a huge difference between admitting guilt and being too hard on ourselves. Admitting guilt is taking ownership of our actions. Being too hard on yourself is unjustified self-blame. Continue from where you left off.

Tip # 4 Ask: In what ways do I procrastinate?

Ask yourself, “In what ways do I procrastinate?” Sit down with pen and paper. Writing them will help you focus and identify them more clearly.

Here are some ways I use to procrastinate:

  • Paying bills.
  • Not discussing the complaints you’ve received about a member of your team for fear of hurting his/her feeling.
  • Repeatedly postponing a dental appointment because you’ve got better things to do or the embarrassment because you left such a small thing so long.
  • Not returning the call of your daughter teacher because you know what the problem is and you’re fed up.
  • Not discussing your resentment about your husband spending too much time at work or with his buddies.
  • Not getting that hair cut, that dress dry-cleaned, that donation mailed.
  • Not visiting a sick relative in the hospital.
  • Not telling your significant other you no longer love her/him.
  • Not calling your doctor about that persistent numbness in your right arm or not fixing a colonoscopy exam date
  • Not having the car’s squeaking brakes checked.
  • Not sending that overdue thank you note or making that overdue call to your mother-in-law.

The list above are not to make you feel overwhelmed about life as they were things I myself struggled with but they are there to remind you that you are human.

Tip # 5 Goals not met because of procrastination

After listing the ways in which I use to procrastinate, You might see your self in them. That is good as you are now taking responsibility. Now Make a second list of goals that you failed to achieve because you procrastinated.

Rachael Aprill Phillips

Let’s take two typical examples: you promised your editor you’d get that article done by a certain due date. On the day the article was due, the editor calls you. You tell her sheepishly that you didn’t have time to do it, and you say something like, “My son was sick for days 8 and I couldn’t concentrate” knowing full well your editor was generous with a deadline date. Result? You took one step farther away from your goal of becoming a professional writer, and two steps farther away from developing a good relationship with an editor who picked you from the 25 writers who applied for the assignment. You can be sure your name has been taken off her address list.

Second example: you delayed lobbying for your colleague’s promotion even if he was the best man for the job. Result? The job went to someone less deserving; second, your colleague resigned to take up another offer. When you measure the consequences of a missed opportunity because you procrastinated, ask if the consequence was worth the delay.

Tip # 6 Taking the hint from tips 4 and 5: what is the money value of missed opportunity?

In fast-paced societies, we tend to think of time as precious and valuable. Expressions such as “time is of the essence,” “time means money,” “you missed the train”, “you missed a window of opportunity” reinforce the value of time.

The article you didn’t submit could have cost you $150.00. Your colleague’s resignation from the company wiped off an important asset from your human resources ledger. If we make it a practice to tag a dollar sign for each of our procrastinations, we’d probably resolve to procrastinate less. ” I know this tip worked very well for me.☺

Tip # 7 What kind of information do you need in a hurry?

We spend half our lives on the phone. We spend an equally big chunk of time looking for phone numbers and names. The directory is cumbersome. Putting them on your outlook means you have to re-boot your computer.

Here’s a neat trick: tear out sheets from your notepad and label each as kitchen, bedroom and living room.

Kitchen sheet: jot down the following telephone numbers:

• supermarket

• butcher’s

• pastry shop

• utensil stores

• take out pizza and other delivery shops

• drug store

• Oriental grocery

Bedroom sheet: jot down….

• dry cleaner’s

• doctors and dentists

• walk-in clinic

• shoe repair shop

• alteration shop

• department store

• Catalog order stores, etc.

Livingroom sheet: jot down…

• professional house cleaners

• plant shop

• local home centre

• florist

• bookstore

• eyeglasses

• airport

Or if you prefer to use your mobile phone, use its memory feature.

Tip # 8 Filtering the essential from the petty Procrastination is the opposite of action.

When you decide which of your tasks need immediate attention and those that can be done later in the week, you’ve just learned the fine art of prioritising. So decide – once and for all – which should be assigned top priority, and then act.

# 9 Better in black and white than dreaming in technicolour

That’s just our way of saying that when you read things on paper, you’re able to act logically; this is much more effective than just thinking out how to avoid procrastination. Putting down things in black and white is even better than brainstorming with another person.

Here’s my reasoning: if you write down what needs to be done, you’re the only one who knows what’s urgent and important. You focus on this task from the implementation to completion. Once it’s completed, you take it off your list. There’s that sense of accomplishment, no matter how small the accomplishment is. You go on to the next task, until you actually get used to the idea of doing, rather than procrastinating.

Brainstorming with a friend, on the other hand, can be viewed as a positive, but can be a form of procrastination. You’ll say to yourself, “what she said makes sense”, so you mull over it, leaving the task undone. Thinking about your tasks yourself and then doing them – without anyone’s feedback – is much more productive.

# 10 Discard old habits We’re creatures of habit.

Even if we know that a certain activity is no longer cost effective, we continue doing it anyway. One example: not looking for alternatives. It’s a lot easier to use the same, familiar road to work, but if there’s a quicker, or more relaxing route you can take, find out what that other route is. It’s always good to have alternative routes. Traffic snarls occur in times when you’re in a hurry.

It is in the doing that we discover hidden sources of your creativity. It is in the doing that we gain momentum. It is in the doing that we become a refined problem-solver. And the more we do, the quicker we become.

You have the means to banish the procrastination forever. Let him play his tricks in somewhere else. Once you’ve learned not to procrastinate in most aspects of your daily life, fulfilment of your most important and meaningful goals is only a step away.

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” Thomas Edison’s words, not mine ☺


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Written by Rachael Phillips

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