“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.”  ~Don Marquis

Have you ever noticed how, when you put something off, it just makes you stress over it more? Procrastination is a great way to create more stress in your life. Even when you think you’re relaxing by doing something later, all you are really doing is adding stress. And mores stress is exactly what you don’t need in your life.

It’s a vicious circle, when you stop and think about it. You feel stressed, so you procrastinate on what needs to be done, and by doing so you feel more stressed. The same is true the other way… If you can break your habit of procrastinating, you can also reduce your stress. It’s still a circle, but a much less vicious one.

Here are three steps you can take to start getting things done and getting rid of stress at the same time.

Step 1. Know your why

They say that knowing is half the battle, so the first thing to do is understand exactly why you procrastinate. We all have our reasons, and your reason for putting things off is no doubt very different from my reason for doing the same thing.

When you feel like procrastinating on a task, ask yourself these questions to find out what is stopping you:

Am I being lazy?

Am I afraid of failing?

Am I afraid of succeeding?

Am I putting this off just to tick someone else off?

All of these reasons for procrastinating can add more tension to an already stressful situation. Knowing why you are doing it can help you get past the need to procrastinate and relieve some of your stress at the same time.

Step 2. Have a plan

Sometimes it’s just plain overwhelm that causes your procrastination. You have so much to do; you just don’t know where to start. When that happens, you can beat procrastination and reduce your stress by having a plan for tackling the project.

When you make your plan, write everything down. Break the whole project into small steps and add them to your schedule with deadlines, so that you know exactly how much you have to do and when it has to be done by.

For example, if you have a 30-page report to create, it’s much easier to write two pages a day for 15 days than it is to write the whole 30 pages the night before your deadline. You’ll feel much more at ease about the whole project if you know you are working within your limits each day, rather than scrambling around in a frenzy at the last minute.

Step 3. Take the first step

Have you ever noticed how stressful you can get just before you start a new project? The anticipation, the fear of what’s ahead, and fear of the outcome can all contribute to both procrastination and stress. If you don’t start, you don’t have to deal with all those other fears and emotions. But the stress of standing on the start line can be a killer in its own right.

Just getting started can go a long way toward reducing stress and eliminating procrastination. Once you take that first step, and get into the task, you’ll most likely find that it’s not so bad after all.

Procrastination is something that we all do. It is human nature to be a little stressed out at the beginning of a new project, but that doesn’t mean you should put it off.  Put these three steps to work for you, and you will soon be kicking both your procrastination habit and your stress to the sidelines where they belong!

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