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By Dan Boudreau
Neuroscience research tells us that most people tend to procrastinate on a specific category of tasks, in particular, tasks that require great effort now but offer unclear future benefits. The key to overcoming procrastination is to decrease the current effort and increase the future benefit—identify a small first step and promise yourself a reward.
If you find yourself mired in procrastination, the following actions will help you break free and push forward.
Action 1: Prioritize and write your goals. Goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time dated. Zig Ziglar has created a wonderful video called Strategies for Success: The Goals Program, available at his website. Your goals build your mission and lead to fulfilling your vision. Write your top three to five goals. Pick the ones that will bring the maximum return for your time and energy. For example, you might set a goal to boost sales, such as “to sell 20 additional billable hours by the month’s end.”
Action 2: Backcast to develop a list of tasks. Backcasting is breaking a larger long-term goal into more immediate, short-term tasks. Each evening, develop a to-do list for the following day. Start today. If you find you’re spending too much time listing tasks and priorities, you may be camouflaging your procrastination with meaningless activity. Dwelling on small or unimportant tasks allows you to deceive yourself into believing you’re too busy to work on the bigger, more important things.
Action 3: Clarify your rewards and benefits. Identify how you will reward yourself once you’ve achieved each goal. If you’re a writer who loves to walk, you might reward yourself after each 1,000 words by taking a stroll.
Eat that frog. It works this way – each morning you review your goals and select the nastiest, toughest one to start your day. Ask yourself which goal, if done, would be the worst job you do all day—no matter what comes at you for the rest of the day, you know the worst is behind you. Once you’ve chosen the goal, go to work on it right away.
What is your frog today? What will you do about it?
An excerpt from Business Killers.