By Keesa Renee DuPre: Benjamin Franklin once said “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” That’s excellent advice, and if we could take it, we’d go far.
Unfortunately, it’s much easier to put something off than it is to actually do it, as we all can testify to. So how do you manage to beat those procrastination habits—and how do you convince yourself to actually beat them now, instead of putting that off, as well?
You can begin the first step as you’re reading this article. Think about what you would accomplish if you were to stop procrastinating. What have you been putting off? Imagine for a moment that you never put anything off. Where would you be right now? What things would you have finished long ago?
Now think of something you’ve been putting off, and imagine yourself actually doing it. Maybe it’s something as small as the dishes you didn’t wash right after breakfast. Maybe it’s a week’s worth of laundry in your hamper. Maybe it’s something big, like signing up for karate lessons or redecorating a room. Imagine yourself getting up from the computer and washing those dishes or doing that laundry or signing up for that karate class.
Now. Do it.
No arguing. Get up and go do it. Don’t worry—the article will still be here when you get back.
Have you done it? Wonderful! You’ve just proved to your mind that you can do something without putting it off. The next step is to do it again. Doing it once is one thing, but if you really want to convince your brain that you’re not a procrastinator, it will take many more tasks.
At random points in the day, whenever you think about something that needs doing, try this: tell your mind, “I am not a procrastinator.” (Say it aloud, if you can!) Then go do the thing you need to do.
When bills come in, tell your brain “I am not a procrastinator.” Sit down, pay them, and file them.
After a meal, tell your brain “I am not a procrastinator.” Wash the dishes and wipe down the counters.
When a big project comes in at work, tell your brain “I am not a procrastinator.” Break the project into steps and tackle each step in turn.
This will have a cumulative effect on your brain. You’ll start out with the conviction that you are a procrastinator; telling your brain that you’re not feels like a lie. But when you reinforce that “lie” with an action, it starts to become true. After a few weeks, you’ll actually start to believe it; you aren’t a procrastinator anymore.
Of course there will be times when you’ll think of something that needs to be done and old habits will win out; you’ll put it off. When that happens, it’s important to forgive yourself and (this is the key) go do it. If you realize you’ve put something off, don’t wallow in your own helplessness; go do it. Even if it’s the middle of the night, go do it.
When you’re trying to control your temper, and you fail and lose it, there’s no way to take back your outburst.
When you’re trying to diet, and you eat a piece of cake, there’s no way of taking back those calories.
The lovely thing about procrastination is that it’s so easy to beat. If you find you’ve put something off, you immediately have a chance to rectify that by doing it. The task won’t go away because you didn’t do it. Every moment of every day offers you a new chance to beat procrastination by taking control and doing those things that you’ve been putting off.
Now. Go do something.