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Overcoming Procrastination and Elephants?

Yes really.

In order to begin overcoming procrastination it helps if you can understand the mindset we all have when we are faced with tasks to do.

Let's visualise it like this. The task you have in front of you is an elephant.

overcoming procrastination means tackling the elephant

Hard to imagine that this can be your item on your to-do list? Well, in terms of overcoming procrastination, an elephant is a great description for a task that you have to do. An elephant is big - huge really, almost insurmountable. Funnily enough, it's kind of like a task that you have - finish that essay, clean the house or do that boring part of your project at work.

So, you've got your elephant, now, if you are true procrastinator, what do you do?

Well, if you're anything like me you look around the elephant to see what's behind it. You can see that there's a little fun task there, something that's easy, that you can tick off on your list. Maybe it's replying to an email or returning a phone call,maybe it's making your bed or maybe it's quickly searching for that information on the internet.

Sooooo, guess what, you step around the elephant and complete the small task, the easier one to do. Then you can tick it off your list.

Day 2 and you have another elephant ahead of you.

overcoming procrastination means tackling the elephant

Again, you look behind the elephant and see the small task (or at least, the not so big task) and you step around the elephant again and complete that task. You're feeling good, you're getting tasks done on your list - easily ticking them off. However, what happens after 5 days of stepping around these elephants? You've guessed it. By the end of the week you nearly have a whole herd of elephants behind you
overcoming procrastination means tackling the elephant
That's right, the tasks/elephants don't magically go away just because you ignore them. If you're very unlucky, those elephants stampede towards you and you go down in a screaming heap.

If we want to learn about overcoming procrastination then we need to come up with some strategies to deal with these elephants.

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My Favourite Tip for Overcoming Procrastination

I bribe myself!!

We've all heard about bribing children to do what you want (I find it generally works for my kids)and now I've discovered that it also works for me.

If there is something that I really really don't want to do then I make the reward better. I don't spend heaps of money on the rewards, sometimes I don't spend any - it can be rewards like reading through a magazine without feeling guilty or even ten minutes lying on the couch contemplating the world, whatever works for you

Let me give you an example. I hate talking on the phone, don't ask me why, I've just always hated it. So, if I have to cold call someone (which I really don't like) then my bribe to myself is that after I've made the call, I'll buy a cup of coffee from the cafe afterwards.

Or as another example, every morning I have to do some exercise (I'm one of those people who love eating so I need to balance it out). I hate running and swimming but those are the best forms of exercise for me. So, I bribe myself with the fact that when I come back, I'll sit for ten minutes on my own just being at peace. That ten minutes of undisturbed solitude is fantastic when you have three kids and makes it well worth the effort of going for a run. (I actually had a larger bribe and made a deal with myself that if I kept running for one month I would buy a new pair of those really nice Nike free run shoes that I'd been coveting but that's another story...)

So that's my favourite tip for overcoming procrastination. It works for me and I try and keep my bribes as minimal cost as possible. For some more ideas on additional techniques to try, read my article on Jump from "Overcoming Procrastination" to "How to Stop Procrastinating"

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