This is the third article in our series on Taking Action…

Procrastination versus Effective Action

We all know that in order to be successful, we must take action. It’s simple, right? Then why is it so hard to do? Often it’s because the tasks are boring or difficult, or something we just don’t want to do. So, how do we overcome this? The problem is  that denial won’t cause the task to go away. Procrastination won’t make it any easier; in fact, it will make it harder. So what do we do?

Here are a few ideas that can help:

1. Take a look at your thinking. If your mind is full of negative thoughts, you will start to believe that the task is impossible and that it’s okay to give up, put it off, or leave it unfinished. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do this,” tell yourself, “I will get this done now.”

2. Get to know when you’re peak performance time is. Regardless of how you feel about the task, choose that time to do it if it’s urgent or important.

3. Make the main thing the main thing. Decide what your most important tasks are and do them first. Prioritize and organize. Often people use the excuse of working on email as a way to put off more important work. It isn’t being rude to ignore your email; it’s prioritizing and taking responsibility for what you need to do.

4. Are you overextending yourself? Learn to say no. Many times it’s hard to say no either because we don’t want to let somebody down or because we’re afraid to turn jobs away. But the truth is that if we overextend ourselves, we might not finish any of our jobs or we might finish them late. Either way, our clients will be unhappy. Most clients will respect an honest no if you are too busy, and will either opt for a later time or find someone else for the job, but they will remember and appreciate your honesty.

5. Be careful about distractions. People may come to you and say, “I just have a quick question,” and that might be true. But if 20 people come to you with a quick question, your day is used up with other people’s work. Either tell them you will get back to them at another time, or, better yet, don’t answer the request in the first place. When you’re important tasks are completed, you will find time to answer the questions you really want to answer.

6. Learn to make decisions decisively. Some people train themselves to do this by setting a stopwatch. They give themselves 1 minute to make a decision and then move on. If you spend too long deciding, you might not make a decision at all.

7. Don’t forget to treat yourself. No matter how hard we work on our mindset, there will always be some tasks we just don’t like. There’s nothing wrong with a bribe for completing the things we don’t like to do.

8. Take a look at the time you waste when you’re away from your computer. What do you do when you’re shopping, driving, or standing in lines? Is the real estate between your ears going to waste? Do you fill that time was worrying or negative thoughts? Instead, train your mind to be thinking about new things you can do for your job or business. Take a notebook with you and write down any ideas you have that might improve your business. This is a very popular technique because frequently people have great ideas but can’t remember them by the time they get to a place where they can write them down.

9. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Just as you don’t want to be overwhelmed by people or things outside yourself, you don’t want to set unreasonable goals for yourself. Come to understand what you can reasonably accomplish in a certain period of time and make that your goal. Then, break it down into steps so that you won’t be overwhelmed in the process of completing it. Remember the old adage,” By the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch.”

10. For tasks that you find especially daunting or unpleasant, you could make use of some tools that lots of people like. One is a simple kitchen timer. Set it for 10 or 20 or 30 minutes and work as intensely as you can on the project. Then take a break and work on something else for a while and come back to it. A tool that people especially like is a piece of software called the Action Machine. It works on both Mac and Windows computers.

To read our other two articles on the topic of Taking action visit:

Article One – Are you an Action Taker? Here are 5 Traits Of Successful Action Takers

Article Two – Taking Action – 5 Things that Stop Us