Proverbs 6:6-8 says: "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest."
Our quote for today is from Thomas Edison. He said: "Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing."
Today, we are beginning a new section titled, "Developing a Game Plan to Overcome Procrastination" Part 1.
A positive attitude about overcoming procrastination is fine, but it doesn't solve the problem. Let's get down to the nuts and bolts. Exactly how does a person translate that positive attitude into reality?
First, you must stop thinking in generalities, and focus your attention on one specific task. Then the problem is not "How do I stop procrastinating?" but "How do I make myself start painting the house?" You can't get a handle on a generality; a specific problem you can deal with.
Having selected the behavior you want to correct, the next step is to analyze the problem and decide what's causing the delay. Such varied causes as fatigue, lack of information, fear of failure, distraction, shyness, conflicting priorities, and so on, obviously will all require different approaches. In most cases, willpower alone won't do the job!
People have a tendency, however, not to look for the "why," or not to look deeply enough. In other words, they procrastinate on analyzing the reasons for their procrastination! Unconsciously, they recognize that focusing attention on the cause of a problem is the first step toward solving it, and they quail at the thought that they might be about to take that fateful first step.
Why do you say that? If a person sincerely wants to solve a problem, and knows what should be done to solve it, it would be illogical not to take the necessary steps.
True, but who said people behave logically? Most don't, which is the reason for books like this one. Somehow we must counteract that streak of masochism that causes us to close our eyes to the real reasons for our procrastination.
So try to categorize your problem, and clarify what it is that has been causing you to procrastinate. And remember, no generalities, no lame excuses such as, "I just have a habit of putting things off." Ask such questions as, "Honestly, what's my problem? Indecision? Shyness? Boredom? Inability to tolerate unpleasantness? Lack of needed tools? Ignorance? Disorganization? Fear? Fatigue? Is there any one word or phrase that sums up why I haven't been able to get this particular task under way?"
I call this process Pigeonholing, because it is an effort to put your problem into a very specific category, zeroing in on the cause rather than the excuse. When you attach an accurate label to a problem, the solution frequently becomes self-evident.
For example, if you establish that indecision is the cause of your problem, you have put your finger on the solution and you are likely to sit down and make some decisions. If you put your problem in the mental pigeonhole marked "Inadequate Information," you'll start looking for the additional data you need. If you recognize that your procrastination is caused by fatigue, fear, poor self-image, environmental problems, poor time management, etc., you may begin addressing those factors individually.
The first step is to find the right pigeonhole. Put the real reason for your delay into words. The precise statement of any problem is the most important step in its solution.
In the search for causes, however, be careful not to mistake excuses for reasons.
Don't let yourself get away with such cop-outs as, "I just haven't been able to find the time," or "There aren't enough hours in the day," or "Things keep coming up." Dig a little deeper. Face up to the real "why," not the rationalization. Be honest with yourself.