“The only difference between success and failure is the ability to take action.”
~ Alexandre Graham Bell
We all want success. We all want to be very much active in life – Keeping up the pace from one part of life to another – Juggling multiple activities like a pro…and be in Action just always!…but..
Do we succeed at it?
The answer depends on whether you are a procrastinator or not!
What is Procrastination
Procrastination, by definition, is delaying important tasks for less urgent tasks or tasks with high pleasure value associated..e.g. delaying tasks like submitting important documents somewhere, setting up a questionnaire for next week’s training activity, preparing an important presentation for a big conference scheduled in couple of weeks etc for less important/pleasure seeking tasks such as Television, Social Network usage , Lethargic Sleeping etc.This way, we end up delaying our important tasks to the point beyond which it cannot be deferred…much like the usage of snooze button for our morning alarms! procrastination is also a very regular quality exhibited in case of perfectionists. A typical perfectionist may keep procrastinating i.e. delaying important tasks with a hope to do it perfectly at a later stage rather than doing it now! Procrastination puts us in a spot of bother as it takes our focus away from Action & keeps us stuck up only at “thoughts” level. In this article, I am going to talk about how to overcome procrastination in 7 days and be Action-full again in your life. This is something I have done in my life and it has helped me immensely. I was a 100% procrastinator earlier & now things have improved drastically. I would say I am now a 20% procrastinator. That’s a major gain of 80% – This is what made me write this article! Before we start, here is a quick snapshot of how I propose to make best use of this article –
Step 1 : Understand What is procrastination. See if you are fitting into the description of a procrastinator. You may also do a varied search on Google for the term Procrastination & find out if it matches your behavior.
Step 2 : Decide if you want to overcome the habit of procrastination now. If the answer is Yes, stay committed to next set of steps. If No, be happy with what you are and try again later if you want to..(Life is good in general.)
Step 3 : Focus on the plan – Stay committed for next 7 days in the hope of something interesting coming your way!
Step 4 : Complete 7 Days program – Apply it in day-to-day life..Knit your life around it!
Step 5 : Keep the feedback cycle going for this blog – which helps other people using the article! If the answer at Step 2 is Yes, then we shall begin with our 7 days program. I have mentioned day-to-day activities for 7 days out of my own experience…Life is great with action Duh! Let’s set aside 15 minutes per day for learning the activity for the day & then keep on implementing it throughout the day.. Very importantly,7 days may not strictly mean 7 calendar days but 7 distinct timespans or time-compartments. You can simply make this program a self-paced one and complete all steps on the same day. It simply depends on what is more comfortable to you based on your will and time availability. If you wish to mix and match & combine couple of days together, the program is perfectly flexible enough to do that. Let’s begin this battle!
Day 1 : Gather Your Tools – Whet Your Weapons!
This is your Day 1 – It would be useful to gather all the tools required for the complete program. 1. To-Do list app on your smart-phone/tablet or a notebook to write a list of tasks you want to do. ( If you are using iPhone/Pad – DO! is recommended. It’s a very simple app to use!). The app should basically have a facility to write down tasks and strike them off when the task is completed. The list should show both deleted and pending tasks – which will help us finding out the completion rate at a later stage. You can also use a notepad/small diary if you want to do it manually. 2. Commitment towards this To-Do list – You have to commit to the tasks if they are going into your To-Do list. So, you should only write tasks in the To-Do list towards which you feel you are committed.. Some tasks may simply be cancelled at a later stage genuinely which is perfectly fine. However, if a large number of tasks are getting cancelled, then there is a high possibility that we are not committed to the list – which is a problem & we may need to put a specific attention there. 3. Patience – Keep a lot of patience. Things are not going to change in a day. Being on a correct path is more important than the destination for now!
Day 2 : First Step – A for Apple , B for Ball
This is your Day 2 – Get ready to put up your first steps! Here is the big idea – From now on-wards, write all your tasks in your To-Do list (The one you have kept ready on Day 1 – App/Notebook.). Let the to-do list grow! Write down every task – small or big that you have on your mind e.g. Call someone, Wish someone on facebook, Re-arrange your shelf etc. Setting up dates for these tasks is not mandatory for starters. Let’s only worry about writing down tasks without Dates thus, creating a list of backlog items. Write as many as you can! If you happen to finish any task from that list, then simply strike-off that task from your To-Do list. Don’t stress on completion of any task for now – The focus on Day 2 is on mentioning as many to-do list items as you can rather than finishing them…Keep Adding!
Day 3 : Keep Accumulating – Let The Evil Grow!
Continue what we started on Day 2. Keep accumulating the backlog items..Let the backlog list grow! It may go to a 50+ count or even 100. Let it grow..it’s going to be fun to kill this evil later! Again, if you happen to finish any task here and there, simply strike it off from the list. You may be tempted to set dates to these tasks which you should avoid for now. The problem with this approach is – If you could not complete it before the date you have mentioned, you will be disappointed and may lose interest in doing that task.
Day 4 : First Major Strike – Halfway Point
This is your moment! A Moment to unleash your power on the evil list of backlog items – Let’s put up our major commitment today to strike off the items from your to-do list. This is the time to stretch yourself and finish as many tasks as you can! This is a day to put up that little extra you have..Crucial Time! Keep on adding new tasks and strike them off ASAP. Eat-Sleep-Strike-Repeat!
Day 5 : Strike It Off
Keep following your Day-4 routine. Identify new tasks and strike them off once completed. You can start assigning dates to tasks if you feel it’s comfortable. (Tip: I find it comfortable not to assign dates to tasks – I just prefer it to lay it in the backlog without dates – Helps me in finishing off the tasks on AWTP basis – As & When Time Permits!) The biggest gain of this day is – you are going to feel great for your Day 4 performance. The biggest hurdle from your journey is over by Day 4 end-of-day! You would have already done a whole lot of tasks from your backlog items on Day 4 which is a fantastic morale booster!
Day 6 : Keep Striking & Be a Pro
Its Day 6 – Continue your activity – You are on your road to become a pro! Time for some cool tips – 1. Break down very big tasks into smaller ones and then add them in your to-do list. This way we keep focusing on each step rather than the final destination which is what spiritual gurus tell us – “Focus on path – Destination is just another point!” 2. Let’s say you have an important but boring task to finish!..Add 3-4 points related to that task. If you complete that activity, 3 or 4 items from your list would be stricken-off which would give you the necessary motivation to finish the task!
Day 7 : Final Touches
Congratulations on reaching the final milestone! Day 7 is really about some final touches here and there. Some important points here – 1. Identify what’s going right for you in the whole process. Revisit things which you feel are not working out for you and change them to meet your needs. This, ultimately is your life and you have the right by all means to get what you wish for! 2. So far we have only talked about one such bucket of backlog items in our To-Do List. You can create different buckets/lists for different areas in your life – personal/office-work/educational etc. 3. You are pretty much ready to use the advanced productivity tools – with date/time deadlines for tasks with reports on important statistics like “No of completed tasks per day” or “Completed/Identified” tasks ratio etc. 4. Any other additional point which suits you. At the end, I would like to thank you for patiently coping up with the article. I sincerely hope that this article helps you in overcoming procrastination and be in Action mode again & most importantly – Enjoy your journey called Life!
I would be happy to hear your personalized journey!
Please share your feedback for the article.
– Amit Chaphekar