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Mental Health Blog: Procrastination, Part 1

Sure, you could put off reading this blog…but don’t.

To Do List
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There are many words we used to describe procrastination —including delaying, stalling, postponing, or just killing time. In terms of my procrastination on writing this article, I called it “gathering details.” It was on my “To Do” list for days. There it remained until my discipline kicked in, and the writing began. Sort of — I had started two other articles that I could not finish until I worked on this particular one.

Procrastination is one of more unpredictable costs in business efficiency. What can you do to reduce procrastination? One of the first items to try out is prioritize a “To Do” list. Every day, seven days a week, create a new daily list. Get used to making a list and checking items off the list. Many individuals prefer to receive a reward of some kind. Sometimes just drawing a line through the task is enough of a reward, or it might be stopping to get a coffee or another predetermined treat.

More on Mental Health for Business

One of the keys for a “To Do” list is discipline. The discipline to put your deadlines down in writing, the discipline to reward yourself for completing a task, and, maybe more important, the discipline to have a penalty for not completing a task. Motivation might be a better driving force than discipline.

Here is a quick comparison of motivation and discipline: Getting up at a certain time every morning can be defined by either one. Motivation is having the knowledge that your tasks need to be done and you are ready to get up and start the day. Discipline is getting up because it is time to do so. Some describe motivation as discipline with a reward, whether real or imaginary. It took discipline to start and finish this article. I personally prefer discipline, although motivation may be more effective for most people.

Fear of failure (see my previous blog) is an irrational fear causing you not to start a project because you fear the project you are working on will fail and drop you in a depressive or similar mood. Reticular activation, the “little voice” within your brain, works like a tightly woven network. It has a lot of inputs — a lot of cause and effect — and this inner voice may be why motivation does not work well with some workers.

Still, “To Do” lists have a problem, which is doing tasks that are worthwhile and productive, but not necessarily what needs to be done. In my next blog I will cover “To Do” lists, their obstacles, and commitments.