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How to Overcome Procrastination and Feel Good About Yourself

By Debbie Mandel

This article has been hard for me to write. The title has hypnotized me into writerís block, distraction, or to put it euphemistically--creative leisure. Normally, I implement, implement and implement, performing seven days a week. I guess I needed a rest, to collect my energy like water in a stream during a dry spell, collecting itself over the next rain to go over or around the rocks in its path. How can you tell the difference between procrastination and collecting your energy? And if you do suffer from procrastination, what can you do about it?

Get Rid of the Guilt
First, do you feel guilty about not accomplishing your personal goals? These goals could range from getting dressed in the morning to organizing your boxes of loose photos into an album to writing the great American novel. Guilty feelings are self-perpetuating and lead to more procrastination and less activity. Negative thoughts predominate and depression can set in. You feel defeated before you begin, becoming paralyzed with inactivity. Because if you do not perform or act, then you canít fail or be judged harshly. Guilty feelings are circular while you need to move in a straight line with one foot in front of another: Small steps giant gains and that is exactly what you can do to counteract all this negativity. Take a small step. Wash your face and get dressed. If you canít take a walk into the sunshine today, just getting dressed and sitting next to a sunny window is a good start. Praise yourself for that! If you have a list of ten things to accomplish and you do only one, cross it off the list and feel proud. Dwell on success not failure.

Clean Out the Clutter
Second, check your surroundings. Is your pocketbook, desk, or personal space cluttered? If the answer is yes, cleaning out the clutter is an important step you must take. Begin small and finish big. You donít have to tackle an entire room or closet. Start with you pocket book or brief case. Then move on to your desk. The rest will fall into place because there will be no stopping you once you experience a pleasantly organized work environment. The physical organization will symbolize the mental one. Simplify to reach your target.

Keep Your Expectations Realistic
Third, do you have unrealistic expectations? If you feel the need to be perfect, you will never get started. For example, if you are researching buying a car, you will never be finished searching for that ideal car. If you are painting a room, you will always notice an imperfection. Nothing is perfect. Most things are beautiful in their imperfect state, like a garden. Lower your expectations and be satisfied with the implementation. Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Just do it! You can revise, repaint, reread, rewrite, refinish and reconstruct. Ask a trusted friendís opinion. At some point you will have to allow your project to have an independent existence like a child that is separate from the parent in body and mind.


Eliminate Distractions
Fourth, are you distracted and diffuse? Then create a working environment that is more serene. Eliminate or at least minimize noise. Make sure that you have adequate lighting. Have the necessary equipment at hand. Sit in a posture that is conducive to good spinal alignment and does not stress your back. Break large tasks into manageable chunks. Write down specific manageable goals and prioritize them. Just writing down your goals helps you make them concrete and do-able instead of abstractions.

Make It Interesting
Fifth, do you find the project boring? How can you propel yourself into action when you find a project empty? Donít vent, re-invent! Find a way to stimulate yourself bringing enthusiasm to your work. You have a powerful imagination at your disposal. Use your creativity, your sense of humor and your positivism to infuse your task with creativity and fun. The line from an old song, ďWhistle while you work,Ē still holds true. Your values and your actions should correspond. If the immediate work at hand isnít exciting, perhaps the larger picture is. You can always learn new skills to enhance your job.

See a Positive Outcome
Use positive visualization techniques to ensure that you complete. See yourself finishing the task at hand successfully. Imagine all the details, even the problems and glitches. Rehearse the scene in your mind-often. See yourself working it all out. Then take a bow and hear the resounding applause. Visualize accomplishment.

Get Rid of the Small Stressors
Make sure to eliminate the small stressors in your life to minimize tension, unpleasantness and distraction. Those small stressors add up. For example, avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, processed white foods and sugars which will physically stress your body and therefore your mind. Get adequate sleep.

Exercise to Fuel Your Mind
For those of you who feel fatigued and just canít get around to do what you have to do, exercise! Ironically when you are most tired and feeling an energy drain, exercise will provide a boost, raise your endorphins and oxygenate the brain to think more clearly. Exercise promotes focused attention. Any kind of exercise will do, even walking for only ten minutes.

Be Patient with Yourself
Above all, change happens slowly. Be grateful for every little change you make. Pat yourself on the back often and if you need to collect yourself for a day and do less, forgive yourself and take the time off. It isnít all or nothing. The next day you can resume your schedule, much like a dieter who enjoys a desert on the weekend and Monday morning resumes the diet. Build gradually. Get rid of toxic friends and nay sayers. Surround yourself with positive people who encourage you to get the job done!

There, I wrote this article. It wasnít too hard to do once I took my own advice.


Debbie Eisenstadt Mandel, MA is the author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer at Brooklyn College. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WLIE 540 AM in New York City and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com