Getting Things Done

"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today" ~ Lord Chesterfield letter to his son

Procrastination is act of delaying or postponing something; a word that I did not learn the meaning of until a couple of years ago. Once I had, I soon realised I'd been caught in the procrastination trap for years. This was something I was not happy about and found three simple rules on how to beat procrastination.

Rule 1: Break It Down

When I looked at some of the things I was putting off, I found that a common problem was that I knew what my end goal was but I didn’t know what steps were required to get there. By breaking your goal down into smaller steps or goals, it seems less daunting and more manageable.

Example: You may want to run your first marathon but never actually run any races before or for a long time, a marathon may seem daunting.

Break this down into smaller goals such as run a mile, run a fun run, run 10 miles, run a half marathon, run 20 miles and run a marathon. Not only does it not seem more manageable but achieving the targets along the way will help keep you motivated towards your end goal.

Rule 2: Set a Deadline

Now that you have broken down your goals we want to avoid procrastination and start working towards them. Set a deadline for each of your goals and then mark it on your calendar as a reminder to yourself. You are much more likely to go ahead and do something if you have a date for it to be completed by. Even if you leave it to the last-minute before completing your goal at least it’s done.

Example: You may set your self 2 weeks to run your first mile without stopping and book a fun run to complete within the first 8 weeks. Aiming to complete a half marathon after 6 months and a full marathon after 12 months.

Rule 3: Be Accountable

Broken down goals and a deadline sometimes are not enough, we make excuses we change our minds and make adjustments for the wrong reasons. I say the wrong reasons because sometimes you may need to make an adjustment for the right reason.

Example: You may be finding it hard to motivate yourself to run on your own so you decide to leave running a marathon until another time. This is making an adjustment for the wrong reason.

You may injure your ankle the week before your half marathon and need to rest it for three weeks. This might lead to changing your half marathon goal from 6 months to 8 months, to take into account recovering from an injury and catching up on missed training. This is making an adjustment for the right reason.

For me the most important rule for how to beat procrastination is to be held accountable by others. Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your colleagues, people at your club, announce it on Facebook and your blog, the more the merrier. These people will keep you honest and hold you accountable for the goals you’ve set encouraging you only to make the right adjustments required to achieving your goals.

Example: You join a running club to help keep you company and to train for your first marathon. 6 months in you’ve completed your half marathon and on your way to completing a full marathon. Only after 6 months you’ve lost your enthusiasm for the goal and decide a half marathon is better than nothing. The other members of your running club step in and offer words of advice and encouragement to keep you honest to your goal.

These are my three simple rules on how to beat procrastination.