Overcoming Procrastination

If you read last week’s blog (What’s Cooking), you will have noticed that I included some general details about my other writing projects. You may have also noticed that I included one very specific comment: “ … in a bid to turn it into a polished product by the end of June.”

I must confess to an ulterior motive in including this comment.  Although the overall goal of the post was to share some information about my writing, that statement was included with the explicit intention of helping me to finish Just Cause. That sentence will help me in two ways:

  1. It’s a specific statement of a goal (ie to finish editing Just Cause by the end of June). You can read an earlier post about how being specific can help you achieve goals.
  2. I’ve now publicly told a number of people (ie all the readers of this blog) what my target is. This is my golden rule to prevent procrastination. Let me explain.

If I have a task that I am procrastinating about, one of the best techniques I have learnt to overcome procrastination is to tell someone else when I will finish it by. This simple device almost always serves to spur me into action. I’m not a psychologist, but I suspect the fact that I have made a commitment to someone else means I am more likely to follow through. It’s one thing to let yourself down, but it’s another thing altogether to fail to deliver for someone else.

I use this technique regularly. Sometimes I deliberately and proactively tell my boss that I’ll complete something by next week (say), even if he hasn’t asked me about it. I may tell my wife that I’ll mow the lawns on the weekend or promise the kids to undertake an activity.

Once the statement has been made, I have to follow through or else I’m going to disappoint someone. Suddenly, it becomes more uncomfortable not to do the task. No more procrastination.

Do you have any other techniques you use to overcome procrastination?