Procrastination is the main reason people fail to live richer lives. If you haven’t been reaching your goals, you may need to make a greater commitment. And the only reliable measure of commitment is action. When you delay getting started on a job or fail to complete a job you’ve already started, always ask yourself why you’re not working on it:
1. I can’t do it and I don’t want to do it.
2. I can do it but I don’t want to.
3. I want to do it but I can’t.
4. I can do it and I want to.
If you’re honest with yourself, you can probably get started on the fourth type of projects today. If you do, you will have taken the first step toward defeating the monster of procrastination.
Research shows that you can develop new habits in just two weeks if you are serious about changing. Taking action and staying focused on your goals is what makes private dreams and corporate missions come true. The tasks people avoid are almost always the ones on which the success of their projects depends. Make a list of your least favorite tasks. Ask yourself how you approach them. Do you tackle them first or leave them for last?
Think about people you know who always get things done. What are their work habits? How do they approach unappealing jobs? How do they stay focused? Try doing the least enjoyable jobs first, or put a task you dislike between your favorite ones. As Mark Twain said, “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long.”
If you have trouble making commitments because you think you won’t be able to live up to them, you may want to try the method that served Thomas Edison so well. When Edison had an idea, he would go public by announcing his invention at a press conference. Having told the world about it, he went into his laboratory and invented it.
You may not want to try this out at work any time soon, but I’m sure you can think of many ways to apply the technique of “going public” in other areas of your life. The point is: Thomas Edison, the greatest and most productive inventor in the history of the United States, understood how important it is to keep from drifting into inactivity. His technique for defeating procrastination was an extraordinary one, and he used it to achieve extraordinary results.
Put your favorite inspirational sayings where you can see them. Let people know when you don’t want to be disturbed. Think about the things in your environment that help you get into the flow of your work. What things distract you or make you want to postpone a job? How can you design or rearrange your environment to eliminate causes of procrastination?
Thomas Edison said, “If we did all the things we were capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” Do something today that you’ve been putting off and start astounding yourself.
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