© Jan Jasper; 2001-2012
People suffer needlessly by postponing tasks until the last minute. A lot of things we race to finish at the 11th hour could be
completed with ease if started early enough.
You don't feel the need to start doing your taxes in January -- what's the hurry? There's still plenty of time. February and
March pass, still no action. By April you spring into a whirl of anxious activity. You scramble to obtain the correct forms.
You frantically start gathering your receipts, but because there isn't enough time to find all of them, you miss out on legitimate
deductions. You may even be forced to do it all yourself because every CPA is booked. What was unpleasant to begin with has become
a much worse ordeal, and quite possibly a more expensive one, due to procrastination.
Don't Procrastinate - Plan!
The solution is to start doing things before they need to be done. Make the most important task your first task of
the week. Then,
no matter what problems arise later, the most important thing got done. Also remember that things often take longer than we
expect. If a report is due next week, schedule time a few days in advance to prepare it. This way, if more time is needed,
you've got it. Don't put off unpleasant tasks - that only prolongs your suffering. Do the most objectionable task first and you'll
be so glad you got it over with, you'll feel great the rest of the day! Make it easier to get started by only committing
an hour - then if it's truly unbearable you can quit after one hour. But once you get started you'll usually find it's not
so bad - it's the putting it off and dreading it that's the worst. Once you've started, you may even want to continue beyond
We know that leaving for the airport at the very last minute is not worth the risk of missing your plane, so we
leave for the airport early. Why not treat other things the same way? Call the pharmacy to have that prescription
refilled before the last pill is gone. Take your clothes in for
dry cleaning before every single suit you own is dirty. Whether it's your office printer, your teeth, or your car, taking
care of problems as soon as they begin to surface will save you time, money, and anxiety. If you make this a habit you'll
be amazed at how much easier life is.
Schedule Appointments With Yourself
You feel some pressure to go in for a check up if your car's making funny noises or you have a toothache. But how about projects
with long-term benefits
but no immediate pressure? These are the hardest things to start and stay motivated on. The solution is to set arbitrary deadlines,
then schedule appointments
with yourself to work towards them. That's right, make an appointment with yourself and enter it in your appointment book or
software! Then, if someone tries
to infringe on this timeslot, say "Sorry, I have a previous commitment." You don't have to tell them that your previous
commitment is to spend 3 hours alone, quietly working on your new marketing plan.
Appointments also are useful for personal things you keep not getting around to, like exercising or calling your dear friend who
moved to another city. So schedule a time to do it.
You may end up doing it at noon on Friday instead of 3 pm on Wednesday, but if you don't enter it into your schedule, you won't
get it done at all!
This article is available for a one-time reprint or one-time internet posting if you include my copyright notice, provide a link to www.janjasper.com
and identify me as follows: "Jan Jasper, a productivity expert in the New York City area, is the author
of Take Back Your Time: How to Regain Control of Work, Information, & Technology (St. Martin's Press)."
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