10 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

“After all is said and done, more is usually said than done.”
Old proverb

Why do we procrastinate? Over the years, here are some of the things I’ve heard people say in my workshop on time management:

“Because we can.”
“The project is too big, too boring, too difficult, too…”
“I don’t have the resources.”
“I don’t like the people I’ll have to work with.”
“By procrastinating, it gives me a reason to come into work tomorrow.”
“I don’t know how to do this project.”
“I’m afraid I’ll fail.”
“I’m afraid I’ll succeed and then they’ll give me more to do.”
”I’m not in the right mood.”
“When I get around to it.”

Any of these sound familiar? If so, here are 10 tips to help you overcome your procrastination and get down to work:

1. Schedule it into your planner. When it’s written down in your book, you’re much more likely to begin to work on it.
2. Delegate it to someone. If it’s causing you so much headache, give it away to someone else.
3. Trade it with someone. If you can’t give it away, maybe you can trade it to someone for whom your item isn’t such a big deal, and you take on one of their items that for you isn’t such a big deal.
4. Fractionate it. This means break it into smaller, bite-sized chunks. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Take a large project and fractionate it into more doable pieces, then tackle just one of those pieces. After that one’s done, the others will be easier to do.
5. Take a random start. Begin with the middle, or start with the end. It doesn’t really matter as long as you just get going. For instance, this works when packing up to move. People have told me that it’s just too big a task that they feel so overwhelmed they wind up doing nothing. I tell them to get a box, walk into any room in the house, and fill that one box. Then later get another box, etc.
6. Plan a reward or a consequence. Are you more motivated by carrots or sticks? Tell yourself that you’ll go out for an ice cream when you finish the project. Or tell a friend you’ll donate $50 to their favorite charity if you don’t complete the project on time.
7. Plan an event. For how many of you your house doesn’t get cleaned until company comes over? So invite your friends for dinner this weekend and watch how fast you’ll overcome your procrastination about cleaning up the house.
8. Work with a buddy. It’s harder to procrastinate on a project if you have a friend over to help you with it. Unless, of course, they are real good at procrastinating, too! Then the two of you wind up doing absolutely nothing.
9. Tell others. Making yourself accountable to others by telling them you’re going to do something boxes you in and makes it harder to avoid doing it. This could be your boss, partner, coach, etc.
10. Set deadlines, especially interim ones. By specifically setting a short-term, targeted deadline, it creates a sense of urgency around the project. And by meeting that deadline, it provides impetus and momentum to keep working.

So there you have it, my 10 tips on overcoming procrastination. Now let’s see, what do I do next with this article? Send it to friends? Nah, too hard. Send it to a magazine for publication? Nah, takes too long. Oh, I’ll just deal with this later.

Brad Warren is a business coach and seminar leader, specializing in custom designed coaching and training programs to enhance productivity and effectiveness. As a coach, he works with entrepreneurs and sole proprietors, providing structure, support, and accountability to increase their business. As a seminar leader, he custom designs training programs in the people skills area, including time management, customer service, communication skills, presentation skills, and negotiation skills. He has presented seminars to over 45,000 people all across the United States and in 19 foreign countries. He can be reached at his home office in California at 510-537-0107, or emailed at brad@bradwarren.com. Visit his website at www.bradwarren.com for further information about specific workshops and coaching.

Author's Bio: 

Bradley K. Warren, BS, MA

Using a very practical, down-to-earth approach in both his coaching and training, Brad brings over 25 years experience in a number of fields to his work. Utilizing a lot of humor and audience participation in his custom designed seminars, he gets the job done by working closely with the client in the beginning to figure out “the gap” between where the participants are and where the company wants them to be at the end of the training. Likewise with his coaching clients, Brad spends a significant amount of time up front determining what the clients’ goals are, and then designing a program to reach those goals. He believes that the client drives the agenda – Brad is the coach/trainer, the client is the performer.

Brad offers one-on-one coaching with entrepreneurs, executives, and sole proprietors to hold them accountable, provide structure and support, and impact their effectiveness and productivity. He requires that clients sign on for a minimum of 6 months of coaching, believing that they need to make a real commitment to the process in order to derive any benefit. After an initial intake, homework assignment, and a possible 2-hour face-to-face session, Brad then works with them either weekly or bi-weekly over the phone for the next 6 months. As a testament to his success, most clients stay on for much longer than that (2-3 years is not uncommon).

In addition to his graduate work in counseling, Brad has hundreds of hours of training as a mediator and negotiator, as well as being certified to teach a number of courses for other training organizations. He has also studied coaching with Patricia McDade of the Entrepreneurial Edge, and is a certified Corporate Business Coach from Corporate Coach University. He has served as a volunteer mediator with the Hayward Area Mediation Service, is a founding board member of the Berkeley Dispute Resolution Service, and was the Vice President of Professional Development for the Mt. Diablo Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.

Brad’s earlier career included 10 years as a teacher of New Games and cooperative sports, where he taught students and other teachers the fundamentals of a win-win approach to sports. He also produced a nationally distributed video entitled Parachute Games. He also spent 5 years working with a clinical psychologist and a mediator, marketing their services to the corporate world while conducting seminars and mediations as well as coaching clients on career and business development. He also spent 6 years leading seminars for the Fred Pryor Seminar Company, and has taught in front of over 40,000 people throughout his career in 27 of the United States as well as 19 foreign countries.

Brad enjoys traveling nationally and internationally, working out at the gym, reading, and spending time with his wife and 18-year-old daughter, especially camping and hiking. He has a BS in Philosophy and Psychology from MIT and an MA in Education from the University of California at Berkeley. He is also a certified negotiator and mediator with National Center Associates, and is certified to teach the Tony Alessandra Platinum Rule Workshop. He also is versed in administering and interpreting the DISC Personality Profile as well as the Workplace Motivators Profile, and teaches negotiation skills, how to achieve work life balance, time management, how to design and deliver powerful presentations, how to run better meetings, stress management, customer service, communication skills, and conflict resolution.