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At one time or another all of us have said, “Oh, I’ll just start writing that report tomorrow!” But tomorrow comes and it’s the same story. More excuses. Low priority chores like dusting, vacuuming, grooming the cat, or alphabetizing your bookshelf suddenly become much more important than starting the cost analysis report the boss wants on his desk by Monday morning. You’ve wasted time, you get angry with yourself over your poor performance, and your stress levels rise as the weekend goes with the report not even started yet.

It’s easy to come up with a whole list of reasons why you can’t start the report. You worry your attempt won’t be perfect. Or decide that you really don’t have the expertise needed to write it, so therefore you’re incompetent. Another very common reason or excuse is, “I’m just not in the mood right now.”

All this negativity has a way of reinforcing your initial problem -- getting that report done for Monday morning. If you keep telling yourself “I can’t do it” and are convinced you’re going to fail, almost inevitably you will. Very soon you’ve developed a pattern of behaviour. Like any other learned habit, the longer it goes unchecked, the harder it is to break.

There are a few steps you can take to begin weaning yourself away from your procrastination habit.

1) Do away with your negative thinking. Instead of saying “I can’t”, tell yourself, “I can.” How do you really know you can’t write that report unless you try? Use positive thinking and positive reinforcement to begin and to achieve your goal of finishing that report.

2) Don’t expect every project you tackle to be perfect. Perfection is rarely, if ever, achieved.

3) Maybe the goals you set for yourself are too big. Break them down into a few smaller, more manageable tasks.

4) Organize yourself -- set priorities. Make a list if you have to and follow it. Daytimers are a great way to do this. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to think about what you need to do tomorrow and jot down each task in your Daytimer. Check each one off as you accomplish it. Don’t berate yourself if you don’t accomplish every single one. If a task wasn’t high priority in the first place, carry it over to the next day.

5) Reward yourself! You’ve accomplished what you set out to do. It’s only Saturday afternoon and that report you need for your Monday morning is done! And it’s pretty darn good! Go see a movie, go for a bike ride, or just take the night off and relax!

So come on, get started on one or two of those projects you’ve been putting off. Why wait until later? No sense putting it off another day. Get started right now!