6 Ways to Beat Procrastination

We all procrastinate. We’re not perfect. But if your procrastination gets so bad that it holds you back from accomplishing your dreams, this is when you have to take control and put a stop to it.

Here are some tricks:

1) Remove all distractions from your sight. Whatever your biggest distractions are, get away from them if only for a short while everyday. Distractions can be habits like roaming around on the internet for hours or can be toxic people in your life who hold you back.

 

2) Set your goals.  What goals are you working toward? Where do you want to be in one year? Or better yet, in five years? Write down your 5 year plan and put it in a spot where you’ll see it everyday. Let that be your daily reminder of what you want to do with your life.

 

3) Think about the last day of your life. Not to be morbid but we are all going to die and you need to take advantage of the time you have. Time flies. If you’re not careful it will all pass you by. On your last day, what do you want to look back on as your accomplishments? What regrets do you not want to have that day?

4) Do at least one thing everyday that will move you toward your goals. One step at a time. One step is better than no step at all. For example, a person who writes one page a day, in one year will have written a 365 page book.

5) Surround yourself with successful people who are also chasing after their dreams. They will help motivate you. I believe who you choose to surround yourself with will ultimately determine the course of your life. Negative people who bring themselves down will drag you down with them. Choose to be with people who will uplift you and inspire you. Making that small, yet powerful change will dramatically shift your life direction.

 

6) Believe in yourself. Trust that no dream is too big for you and you’re meant to live the life you always dreamed of. That dream was placed in your heart for a reason. You’re supposed to make your dreams a reality.  You’re not meant to leave them in the dark and waste them away with procrastination.

Caroline

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Queen of Procrastination

  • March snow is always interesting. I remember the March blizzard of 1993. I had an exam due in high school. I studied hard for it and I was less than thrilled about the snow. Not taking the exam meant I had to keep studying for it to keep the information fresh in my mind.

 

  • We were out for almost a week of school. By the time I took the exam I could’ve taught a course on the material.

 

  • That’s what this storm reminds me of. Studying over and over again for a subject I can’t even remember right now.

 

  • Today I realized my apartment is a grand source of distraction. Every time I sat down to write, the demons of procrastination would beckon me to the refrigerator, laundry, TV, internet or just tell me to stare out the window for no reason at all.

 

  • That’s when I moved the whole operation downstairs in my apartment building in front of the fire where college kids are studying for exams, adults are reading, and one guy was signing his life away to buy a house.

 

  • The downstairs noise involved a cacophony of college student page turning, the business as usual sounds of the teleworking government employees, the random 4-year-old singing “It’s a Small World” (don’t ask), neighbors greeting each other over coffee and complaining about their kids, and the home buyer arguing the terms of the contract and loudly announcing things such as, “I’m not signing this part if it’s going to make your life easier. I’ll only sign if it’ll make my life easier. This is about me!” All of this still was not enough to throw off my concentration.

 

  • The noise was all child’s play compared to the loud clamor in my head that usually keeps me running toward the TV, fridge and whatever chore in my apartment.

 

  • I’m grateful that I have a place to escape to when I need to run from my own dawdling.

 

  • I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. We all need a place where we can escape our distractions and the voice in our head that gets us to be lazy and watch the movie, “Notting Hill“ for the millionth time even though we already know that (spoiler alert) Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant will get married in the end. Sorry, did I ruin it?  I did say “spoiler alert” and it’s been 15 years–you should’ve seen it by now…and the movie Chernobyl Diaries is about a group of people whose concept of vacation is highly skewed. They for some insane reason actually pay a tour guide to drive them to a radioactive site where people once ran away from, then the mutants come out and they all die at the end. Oh, and at the end of Titanic, the boat sinks, and an incredibly selfish girl doesn’t share a life raft with her so-called true love. Then he dies. There, I saw these movies for you. Now you can go live your life.

 

  • If you have a dream. Work on meeting your goals. Be productive and try not to procrastinate =)

Caroline

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  • Our bad habits can be barriers to our dreams.
  • For some it’s procrastination: the art of putting things off. Some of us have mastered this until it is a true work of art. Lose it. It is not a beautiful painting,
  • For some of us, it’s constantly ignoring our inner voice. It’s a bad habit. A good habit is listening to your heart and doing what it tells you to do.
  • For some of us, it’s letting ourselves get distracted and falling off course. We live in a loud and busy world. We have to try harder to minimize the distractions.
  • Whatever habit or habits you have that are blocking your progress towards your dreams, make it a priority to try hard everyday to get past them.
  • Your dreams are worth the trouble.
As for me, it’s a daily task for me to push past my procrastination, insecurities, excuses, and distractions to get myself to move forward a little each day. Hey, if I can do it, you can do it.
Caroline
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My first blog post ever was on the subject of Procrastination (yes, the evil word deserves to be in bold) That was back in February when the year and my blog were still young. I had just started my blog and was procrastinating writing the first post.

It felt too monumental for me to put my first post out there into cyberspace for all to see. I was new and was nervous about dipping my toes into the cyberspace swimming pool. I asked myself a million questions and brainstormed a thousand ideas. What do I write about? All of my stalling and procrastinating led me to write about procrastination. Once the topic was chosen, I ironically put off writing it for days.

Procrastination is something that I struggle with everyday. I win that fight every day but the battle is still there the next day and the one after that. I noticed that with time and with each successful day, we get stronger in the fight. After a while, it gets easier to stay on target. Then one day you get to the point when you are no longer a procrastinating creature. Getting things done becomes your habit instead.

I guess that’s how it works for any area in our life where we are weak. If we work at it, we get stronger.

Just wanted to share….

In other news, I’ve been brainstorming like crazy to decide on a title for my book. I have literally come up with at least 30 possible titles. It’s driving me up the wall. I once read in a book for writers that if you want help with the title of your book you should write the question down on a piece of paper and put it under your pillow before you go to sleep. By morning, the author claims you will have your book title. It did say it may take a few tries.  They claimed to have found titles for all of their books this way. In my desperation, I resorted to this tactic. Nothing yet, but I did manage to get ink all over my pillow case.

 Eventually it would be nice to whittle it down to 5 titles. Its like naming a baby. When I was born, my parents put a bunch of names in a bowl and my sister picked out my name at random. Maybe that’s what I’ll do after I get it down to 5 choices. I will let the universe decide. Then again maybe there is no wrong choice. I would have been okay with the name Natalie too. (My mother was a fan of Natalie Wood)

Natalie  Caroline

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Some days I feel like someone has pushed the fast forward button and suddenly the end of the day is upon me and I don’t know what happened. You wake up and have actual plans for your day and then one thing leads another and you got nothing done.  Then you look at the clock and see that it is so late, that it is almost tomorrow. You sigh and promise yourself that tomorrow will be different. You will not let the day get away from you. Tomorrow will be a magical day when you will stay focused and get things done.

One thing that I have noticed is that I am most productive on the days when I am not trying. The days where I just let the day go where it pleases is when I get things on my to-do list done. When we remove the pressure of having to do everything is when we end up doing everything we need to do. Wierd isn’t it?

Today I walked around in a fog induced by my newfound spring time allergies (oh what a joy they are) and tried to get things done. It did not work. Have you ever tried to function normally when you have seasonal allergies? It’s like walking up a mountain wearing flip flops as hiking shoes. It is an uphill battle. Getting off topic for a moment, I never in my life thought I would be afraid of trees, grass or flowers. I went to the market briefly today and when I saw the floral section, I made a quick U-turn and almost ran into an elderly woman on a mission with her shopping cart. Ignoring her glare at my clumsiness, I thought about how I was now intensely afraid of flowers. If anyone wants to threaten me they just need to send me a bouquet of whatever and I will run out of the room screaming.

Back to the topic.

What can you do to stay on task and not let the day get away from you? Don’t make grand plans that you will get 4 million things done. You will never get everything done and it will only undermine your self confidence. Do allow yourself days where you plan on getting nothing done. (those are usually the days where you will anyways) Today was a day when I should have planned to do nothing since I was viewing the world in a pollen induced haze. Live and learn I guess.

On the days when you plan to get things done, keep your list short and only do what is most important. Minimize your distractions and things that are ‘time suckers’ like TV, internet and that gossipy person you know. (we all know at least one)

Until tomorrow…..  :)

Caroline

 

 

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The “One Day I Will” Syndrome

“One day I will………” Do you often start sentences like this? Do you have plans that you keep making in your mind to start in the time frame of ‘one day’? Do you ever wonder what you are waiting for?

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read ,”Don’t postpone joy”.  How true. When we put off the things we want to do, we are postponing our happiness.

I’ve done it many times. I have postponed plans, I have even put off wearing clothes that I love to wear. How silly is that? I have a pair of shoes that I keep in my closet and never wear simply because I love them so much. What? Exactly, it makes no sense. It is easy to get a pair of shoes out of the closet and wear them, it is also just as easy to start doing whatever you are putting off.

It is almost like we are telling ourselves, “It’s okay, I’ll be happy later”. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? If you are planning on being happy at a future date, then what are you doing now? Is mediocre okay for you now but extraordinary is the plan for the future? Guess what? None of us are guaranteed the future so why not be happy now?

Whatever plans you have or things you want to do, get started. Don’t wait for ‘some day’ or ‘one day’ or ‘as soon as this happens then I will’, to come to pass before you start your life.  Don’t ‘maybe later’ your life away.

As for me, I am going to pull those damn shoes from that high shelf and wear them tomorrow. ;)

 

Happy Thursday!!

Caroline

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The Blank Sheet of Paper

Every Writers Challenge:

1) blank sheet of paper

2) empty computer screen

3) the pen that sits undisturbed

4) the keyboard that is collecting dust

5) self confidence

These are all hurdles a writer must jump over in order to begin the first words on the page. You stare at the blank sheet of paper or computer screen and it stares back  mocking you. This experience is not for the faint of heart. The good news is that once you learn to jump over these hurdles everyday, you will get better and stronger. The hurdles will eventually seem smaller until they are just merely ant hills.

This doesn’t apply to just writers. With any difficulty in your life, if you face it everyday, you naturally will get better at it. The difficult parts will be easier for you. It makes sense, the more you practice, the better you will get.

I remember in dental school, we were learning how to do a dental procedure for the first time (don’t worry it was on a mannequin not a real person). We were new at it and many of us were struggling with it. I remember a girl in my class asked a teacher, “Will it ever get any easier??” I will never forget his answer. He said, “no, but you will get better and faster”. That answer struck a chord with me, so much that I still remember it after all these years. It’s true, dentistry does not get any easier, but we do get better and quicker if we keep doing it.

If I Ignore It, Then It Will Go Away

If you ignore the difficulties in your life, you are only making them bigger. In a previous post on procrastination I mentioned that the hardest part of getting myself to write again was opening the box to my new laptop. The longer I ignored the unopened box in the corner, the harder it became to actually start. Ignoring what was staring me in the face everyday was only hurting me. It wasn’t until I went to the page everyday and wrote, that gradually my fears melted away and everything became easier.

If you have stayed away from something that you are afraid to face, it makes it even harder for you. In your mind that ant hill becomes a mountain. If you put your fears aside and go after what you want, you can turn the mountains back into ant hills.

We all have a hurdle or two to jump over. It could be the athlete who avoids the sport for too long and is afraid to jump back into it; The artist who has to face the blank canvas; the writer who meets the page each day; the person who decides to go back to school. It can apply to anyone.  The things that we want to do with our lives may be difficult at first but will get easier the more we do it. We just have to show up everyday.

Life is practice. We learn, grow and get better with time, but only if we keep practicing.

Happy almost Friday!!!

Caroline

 

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How To Finish What You Start

How to Finish Something Once You Have Started

(this post is an addition to my previous post on Procrastination)

In my post on procrastination I mentioned my battle with procrastination that I fought in order to get my book done. I thought it would be good to describe more specific steps you can take to finish whatever project you have started but are having a hard time finishing.

1) Set a Deadline Date

Pick a date when your project must be completed. Be realistic with this date. Put it on a calender, and hang it up. I don’t recommend putting it in your phone calender because I think it helps to have a calender hanging in front of you as a visual reminder.

2) Set a Week by Week Plan

At the beginning of every week, set a plan for yourself for that week. Outline what you will do everyday of that week. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much. Again, be realistic. Keep a list of things you need to do each week and break it down into days. Set daily goals and meet them. Even doing something small each day is good because at least you did something. For example, I’ve heard people say that if you write one page every day, in one year you will have a 365 page book.

Create daily goals that will be easy for you to meet. Whenever you meet a goal, it will increase your self-confidence and you will trust yourself more to get things done the next day.

When you create unrealistic goals it will make the project seem like too much work and will turn you off to the entire endeavor.

3) Reward Yourself Daily

When you meet your daily goals you should reward yourself with little rewards. It will help keep you on track. It’s okay to treat yourself. Rewards go a long way in keeping you focused on your goal.

4) Get a Support Team

Get a group of people together that you trust to help nudge you along your way. It helps to have a few friends or family on your side checking in on your progress.

Be careful though, they are not there to nag you or belittle you. Choose a support team who will be a good influence on you. Don’t pick your friend who likes to put you down (why is he your friend anyways?) or your friend who never gets anything done themselves. Pick someone who will encourage you. They are there to give you positive reinforcement and to give you a gentle nudge when you need it.

When I was writing my first book my friends and family kept me going by telling me they couldn’t wait to read it. They weren’t pestering me or belittling me. They were just a gentle push to keep me going. A positive nudge or two from people who believe in you is good to have.

5) Visualize Your Final Product

Imagine your final finished product in your mind. If it is a house renovation you are doing, see it finished in your mind. If you are working on a book, visualize the finished book and your name on it.

Go a step further and imagine all of the things you will do when you are finished and plan for it.  For example, plan the party you will have once the house renovation is done. If your goal is to lose weight, what will you do with all of your old clothes and what new ones will you need? Plan for it and the final product will come.

6) Reward yourself When You Reach Your Goal

Plan for how you will reward yourself once you reach your goal and put it up as a reminder for yourself to keep you going. For example, if you are planning to go to Miami once you meet your goal then you may want to put up a picture of Miami somewhere where you can see it. It will help keep you on task and focused.

Remember, when you take on too much at once you get burnt out and are more likely to either quit completely or take too long a break from the project. If that happens, when and if you return to the task it may prove to be difficult to pick up where you left off.

When you use each day to your advantage and set realistic goals. Before you know it you are already at the finish line and ready to reap the rewards of all of your hard work. :)

Until tomorrow!

Caroline

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Today’s post is dedicated to our wayward friend procrastination. I know him well. We are the best of friends. Alright, we are not friends anymore, and that’s fine with me. Good riddance!! Did he come knocking at your door when I threw him out? Sorry about that but here is what you can do if you want him to go away. First let me mention my love/hate relationship with procrastination and  maybe you can relate it to yours.

My Relationship Issues With Procrastination And Why We Broke Up!!

I am a writer. Ok a dentist too, but I am also a writer. My biggest hurdle in life has been to overcome procrastination and actually do the things that matter to me and not the million things on my to-do lists that don’t matter. As a writer I found that getting myself to the page to write is like dragging an elephant across the room by attaching dental floss to its trunk and pulling with all your might. IT CAN’T BE DONE!! Every day procrastination would whisper sweet nothings into my ear such as “shh it’s ok, you can do it tomorrow”. I realized my so-called friend procrastination really didn’t like me very much and it was time to stop listening to him.

The Unopened Box

I tried every tactic I could think of to get myself to write but every time I found it easy to put it off once again. This went on for longer than I care to admit to you. Until one day I found myself starting at my brand new laptop that after months WAS STILL IN ITS BOX AND THE CHRISTMAS WRAP WAS STILL DANGLING FROM IT (thanks to my parents for the gift). Ok, not my proudest moment, but that was when I decided that enough was truly enough. It was time to send my friend procrastination packing.

Golden Tips For Getting Rid Of Your Procrastination For Good

1) Identify What It Is You Are Avoiding

This part is easy. For me it was writing, but for you it may be something else. It could be starting a new career, finishing a project, or changing something in your life. Whatever it is, simply acknowledging it will give it credibility, and make it more tangible to you.

2) Take The First Step

Do the first step towards your goal. Don’t think. Just do it. Thinking and over-thinking is what got you into this mess. For me, it was as simple as opening a box. That simple step took me months to do. Often its our fears that keep us from taking the first step. Get over that hurdle and just take that first scary step. The rest is easier, I promise.

3) Break Everything You Need To Do Into Steps And Then Take The Second Step

Breaking it down makes it a lot easier than thinking about what you need to do as a huge project. You don’t want to scare yourself off and forget the whole thing and run back into the waiting arms of procrastination (and believe me he will be waiting).

4) Do Something Towards Your Goal Everyday

Make it a point to do something every single day and actually do it. Set aside a bit of time every day. You can find the time.

5) Minimize Your Distractions- you know what they are

Simplify your life as much as possible. Do you really need to play on the internet as much as you do? Is attending a million happy hours a week necessary for your survival? Believe me, I am not judging. Think about what your are doing with your time every day that you can live without and extract it from your life like a bad tooth. (sorry, couldn’t resist a tooth analogy)

6) Stay On Track

If you fall off track, so what? Pick yourself up and keep going. I fell off track so many times I could write a book only about that. Don’t belittle yourself. Be nice to yourself. You have to hang out with yourself all day everyday for the rest of your life. Forgive yourself if you fall off track and get back on.

Your Life Without Procrastination

Soon, not procrastinating will be as natural to you as flossing. Ok, just kidding! I know that most of you don’t floss…Soon not procrastinating will be as natural to you as NOT flossing, as natural as breathing, as blinking….well, you get my point. Then what happens?

With procrastination no longer living with you and eating all of your food, you have the space and time in your life you always dreamed of. You will accomplish your goals. Simple as that.

Warning!!!

Procrastination may decide to knock on your door one day begging to be let back into your life. It’s ok if you miss him a little but pretend it’s some guy at your door selling encyclopedias and don’t answer it…….remember encyclopedias?? No? Then you never had to carry those heavy books with your skinny arms around the school library trying to finish your report on Mount Vesuvius and learn about how it is 1277 meters high and 30 miles long at its base and 17,000 years old….you just used the internet didn’t you? Ok, I’m embarking on a MAJOR tangent here…this is my vain effort to procrastinate cleaning the house…..now as I am finishing this post on my laptop that is clearly out of the box I smile to myself knowing that I won this little battle in my life…..

Until next time!

Caroline

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