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Procrastinate Tomorrow

Are you reading this article to put off doing something else? Procrastination can have many underlying causes, but at bottom it's a bad habit. That's actually the good news: like any other bad habit, it can be broken and replaced by a good one. Here are some techniques to jump-start your efforts.

1. Break It Down. Probably the single best suggestion to defeat procrastination is to break the project down into manageable chunks. As the proverb says, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Productivity guru David Allen counsels: ask yourself what is the next step that has to be taken to move the project forward. That way, you distract yourself from all the things that can go wrong.

2. Start with the Most Manageable Tasks. If you begin with a task that can be accomplished in a simple step or two, it's more likely to get done than a big, vaguely defined project--and that will give you the feeling of progress you need to go on to the next small, manageable stage. If you still need help, remember the goal, and put unpleasant tasks first; psychologists have shown the pleasant tasks then act as a reward.

3. Work According to Your Natural Pace. Everyone has a way of working with which they feel most comfortable. Some people get work done weeks in advance, while others wait until the last minute to get started. Find your natural pace and stick with it.

4. Use Basic Time Management Techniques. Keeping a To-Do list provides visual evidence of accomplishment every time you cross off an item. Keeping your desk clear, going through your In box regularly, and sticking to the two-minute rule (if you can deal with it in two minutes, do so right now) are habits that eliminate distractions and ensure that important tasks get attended to in timely fashion.

There will always be times when you don't feel like doing something you need to do, and put it off. The steps outlined here will help get you back on track. Now get to work!

James Cappio is a writer, corporate communicator, editor, and teacher based in Toronto. To learn more about how he can help you deliver messages crafted to get the results you want, e-mail him at cappio@mindspring.com or visit his web site, Copy Writer in Toronto.

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