Seems to me like there are two different types of procrastinators. Some folks have a hard time getting started and others start everything and procrastinate finishing things. I am a card carrying, certified slow starter. Over the years I’ve used a few techniques to help squash my tendency to wait until tomorrow or the next day.
First of all I learned to recognize the things I do when I’m in the procrastination mode. I shuffle papers. I think of something I really want to do and rationalize why I should do that instead of what I’m procrastinating. (Great definition of rationalization? Rational lies.) It’s a matter of deciding what’s good, better, or best. What’s the best use of my time right now? I remember when I was writing my books (painful process) I would stop writing so I could think up cute, clever chapter titles. That was fun. That I enjoyed. I didn’t want to open a vein when I was doing that. Another symptom, for me anyway, is that I get this feeling like there’s a large concrete block sitting in my stomach. I know I should make that phone call, but what if this isn’t a good time? What if I say something stupid and mess everything up? Procrastination helps our imaginations spiral out of control.
So first – I tell myself (sometimes out loud) I’m just procrastinating. Someone once told me that we should do the most dreaded chore first. That’s probably good advice.
There are three parts to every job: getting ready; doing the job; cleaning up the job. It helps stop procrastination if you know the start up isn’t going to be bothersome. The dishwasher is empty. You know what row you’re on in the knitting pattern. You know the next step you’re taking on that big project. Next time you’re stopping a project mid-stream, be sure to have it ready to go when you start up again. Make that ‘get ready’ something you won’t dread and likely procrastinate.
Okay – so you’re not a slow starter. Maybe you’re just not a finisher. Some folks start everything, but have a hard time crossing the finish line. If that sounds like you, make a list of all the projects that are undone. Pick out the most important one (or the one that’s causing the most stress) and decide what specific things you need to do to finish it. Then methodically move to its conclusion.