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10/28/2002 - Defeating Procrastination

So lo and behold, I'm perusing the internet as usual and I come across another frightening statistic out of Duke University: the first and foremost cause of stress is procrastination.

Say again?

That's right, procrastination. Hmmm, let me get back to you on that.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, everybody does it, right? Sure. I do it all the time! Procrastination is a major part of my life. Hell, one of my favorite things to do is to put off writing until I finish cleaning out my closet. I think to myself ?I'm not in the mood to write' or ?There's plenty of time to do it later'. Excuses are a dime a dozen. We all have them.

So why is it that we tend to procrastinate? There are a number of reasons, but the most popular are:

When we perceive something as difficult or inconvenient, then we put it off.

When it's something we have to do, then we put it off.

When we feel that we won't be able to do something good enough, then we put it off.

If it's just plain boring, then we put it off.

Yes, procrastination is a big part of our life. It is part of our imperfection.

But it doesn't have to be.

We have the ability to change our lives for the better, completely eliminate procrastination from our routine, and live a stress-free life!

Yeah sure, and Elvis is still alive and living in a trailer park in Escondido.

But seriously folks, we can do things differently and live a much less stressful existence. We're smart people, right? Hell, we're writers! We know everything!

So here's the thing, we need to make some serious adjustments in order to kill this procrastination epidemic.

First, make a list of priorities and live by them. Your writing should be high on that list. Watching "Survivor" should be low on the list. What? Not watching "Survivor" and writing instead? You do want a six-figure income some day, don't you? Okay, so then start acting like it!

Second, realize that you're not perfect. Many of us have this fear that we won't do something right, so this fear makes us procrastinate. For me, it's writing the next Oscar winning screenplay. I often put off writing because I think that I'm just not good enough. Guess what, kids? We're not perfect. And we never will be. Once we realize that, we can get on with what we want to do. And no, it probably won't be perfect. But you'd be surprised at how many times it'll come out much better than you thought it would. And most importantly, it will get done.

Do the little stuff right away. When you get a bill, pay it immediately. If someone leaves you a message, call them back the same day. You have a cell phone, right? Then use it! When little things pile up, it can become a cause of stress. And it can take time away from more important things later on. So do the little things right away and you won't have to deal with them later on.

Set goals and reward yourself when you complete them. If you are a week ahead in your writing, it's time to celebrate! Ask that beautiful girl that works at the bank out to dinner! Stuff yourself with Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Pick the right carrot for you, Bugs! Whatever makes your boat float. However you do it, it is important that you do reward yourself for completing goals so that you will continue to do so. Eventually it will become a habit and people will be in awe of your success.

Once you start to loosen the shackles of procrastination from your life, you'll find that you have more time than you know what to do with. And more importantly, you'll be on the path that you chose for yourself a long time ago. One where happiness and success is abundant, and stress is a thing of the past.


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