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The Time Is Now

Stop procrastinating and get back to work.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the May 2000 issue of Subscribe »

Sometimes it's easier to put things off than to handle them right away. Easier, but not smarter. Here are several ways to help you jump-start your next project and avoid a last-minute time crunch:

  • First, use a to-do list-whether on paper, in an electronic organizer or on your PC-to record everything you need to do.
  • Give each task on your list a priority, either by listing the more important tasks at the top or by using a numeric system (No. 1 for high-priority tasks, No. 2 for less important tasks, and so on).
  • Refer to your list often while you're working, and if you're still having trouble getting started, work on a quick No. 3 or easy task. After completing a simple task, you'll be ready to tackle bigger ones.
  • Reward yourself for completing various aspects of a project. A reward may be as simple as taking a walk around the block or reading part of your favorite magazine.
  • Don't beat yourself up. Realize that you're not the only person who has trouble getting started on various projects.

If you're still having trouble getting started, use one of these methods to make your tasks a bit more manageable and fun:

  • Elephant. The old saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time," is still true. Break your project into smaller tasks.
  • Ten Minutes. Promise yourself you'll work on a project for 10 minutes and then quit if you're tired or bored. Chances are at least 30 minutes will pass and you'll have made progress.
  • Best for Last. Handle a few tasks first, and as a reward, save the easiest task or the one you want to do the most for last.
  • Game Playing. Challenge yourself to handle one task in less than 30 minutes. Then move on to another task and shorten the amount of time you give yourself. Make it a game to see how quickly you can tackle tasks you've been putting off.
  • Public Announcement. Be brave and tell others about your plans. If you fail to complete a task you've committed to in front of witnesses, not only do you have to face yourself, you have to face others.

Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of and the author of Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).

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