How to Overcome Procrastination in Two Simple Steps
Submitted On 2008-03-01

Key Secret #1 – Do Only One Task at a Time

“If you chase two rabbits, you will lose them both” - Ancient Hunter’s Proverb

Modern life, with its hectic pace, has created the illusion that people can multi-task; that is, perform several tasks simultaneously. Perhaps you have found yourself multi-tasking in an effort to become more productive. If that is the case, then you might be shocked by what you are about to discover.

The human mind is a marvelous device. So marvelous that it can focus on practically any one task, no matter how intricate. However, give it two tasks, even trivial ones, and it virtually shuts down.

If you doubt what you just read, then I encourage you to do an experiment: recite the alphabet while you are reading this article, and then see if you remember anything that you read while you were going through the letters.

Or, if you would like to have some fun, you can even try performing a mechanical, automatic task while reading this article. Try singing your favorite song as you continue to read.

I probably don’t need to tell you what just happened, as it is obvious: It took monumental effort to perform both tasks well at the same time, if you were able to carry them out at all (most people cannot, and the rest are probably lying when they say they can).

So why is it that so many of us harbor the illusion that we can do several things at once and truly accomplish anything meaningful?

What is Multi-Tasking?

Multi-Tasking is a sleek-sounding name given to any case in which a person focuses on more than one activity at any one time. It may be as simple as reading e-mail while on the phone, or writing a letter & stopping to respond to an e-mail in the middle of the task.

Generally speaking, it is easier to lose motivation when focusing on multiple activities at the same time. For example, if your to-do list includes five items that need to be done the same day, then rotating the tasks and completing portions of them in turn will probably take longer, and result in a lower-quality result, than focusing on one task until it is complete, and then moving on to the next.

The world’s most successful people have written in-depth about the power of focus. By focusing on just one task at a time until it is complete (and not moving on to another unless an emergency compels you to do otherwise), you will enjoy the pleasant feelings that come with making true progress towards your goals. Your motivation will improve and your quality of work will increase.

The top people in society use this simple secret every day. To start using it in your life, you need only say ‘no’ to interruptions, and refuse to move on to another task until you have completed the one on which you are working. This habit makes it easy to start each with a clear mind. You will be boosted by the satisfaction of having made real progress. Remember, three one project fully completed is always better than three projects half-finished.

Key Secret #2 – Do Worst Things First

One of the biggest problems with most time management systems is that, aside from being overly complicated, they force you to include all of the day’s activities in a to-do list. Unfortunately, such a habit can create the ideal conditions for the worst thief of time of all: procrastination!

When you place items in a to-do list, even a prioritized to-do list, small routine tasks tend to end up side-by-side with crucial activities. Most of us will tend to tackle the small activities first, perhaps because we enjoy feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing any task on a list.

Unfortunately, the result is that that your most crucial tasks will end up being passed over, put off, and ultimately unfinished. As we procrastinate more by performing several easier tasks, we start feeling anxious and worried.

Before long, thinking and worrying about an unfinished task becomes more time-consuming than actually completing the project in the first place. Successful and highly productive people, however, know the key secret to turning this habit around: Doing Worst Things First.

By starting out your day with the worst, most unpleasant task on your list (which also tends to be the most valuable task), you will dramatically improve your productivity. Once you have focused on and completed the unpleasant task, all other items on your list will seem pleasant… almost a reward. As a result, your motivation will skyrocket, and your self-confidence will soar.

A CEO of a large company once revealed a secret of his success: He ate a frog every morning when he was young. By doing so, he then knew that whatever happened during the day, no matter how terrible, would be more pleasant than his slimy breakfast.

Of course, you needn’t eat any frogs to experience your own success. However, the power of doing Worst Things First is undeniable – you will immediately complete tasks that you may have been putting off for weeks, months, or even years. All the while, you will also be improving your motivation and energy, which will easily carry you through the smaller tasks on your list.

You may be thinking: “But what if every task on my list is awful? After I finish the first task, I’ll just have more unpleasant activities to look forward to."

If that describes your situation, then try breaking down your tasks by unpleasantness. Take the least desirable tasks and place them in a category of their own. Then make sure that each day includes only one of those, and start the day out with it.

A good tool for staying on task can be found [] here. Before long you will be confidently completing tasks that might have filled you with dread before. And you’ll feel great.

Target Audience: all

Tags: Time management system, software,

Ezine Subscription Info: []

Website/Archive Link: []

Ezine Owner: Richard Hugel

Public Contact: []


This Ezine has been Viewed 2171 time(s).

Please Rate This Ezine:

Number of ratings: 5
Rating: 4.6
rating:4.8 rating:4.8 rating:4.8 rating:4.8 rating:4.8
Recent Reviews:
No Reviews

Additional Ezines for Business