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Seven ways to stop procrastinating

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Procrastination is one of the biggest threats to personal efficiency. The good news is that personal will power is all you need to conquer procrastination. Easier said than done, but read on for my seven tips on minimising the amount you procrastinate.

1. Break it up

Break the task up into smaller pieces. When the task is smaller and seemingly more manageable, you are more likely to get on and do it. Remember: How do you eat an elephant” One bite at a time…

2. Give yourself milestones

Similar to breaking the task up into smaller pieces, set yourself milestones on the way to completion. Reward yourself when you achieve a milestone, for example, take the time to enjoy a cup of tea and a biscuit.

3. Have a to-do list

Write down all your tasks and things to do. When you’ve completed them, scrub them off the list. As you see your progress building, it will give you the momentum to finish the list.

4. Set deadlines

Whether they are real or artificial deadlines, set them. You will be amazed how a deadline can give you the stimulus to complete a task.

5. Get the difficult stuff out the way first

Very simply, if you do the difficult stuff when you’re at your most alert and energetic, then you’ll gain the momentum to get the rest done.

6. Avoid perfection

Aim for 80/20 or 90/10, as total perfection is rarely needed in business. Aiming for perfection (and knowing you cannot achieve it) is a factor in procrastinating. Perfection is a major obstacle to personal efficiency.

7. Delegate or outsource

If you know what you don’t like doing and what tasks you tend to procrastinate on, then (if possible) delegate or outsource this task. Procrastinating on certain types of tasks often suggests that this is not a personal strength OR there is a lack of personal motivation to complete the task.

What are your best tricks to staying focused

Heather Townsend, Britain’s queen of networking, is the founder of The Efficiency Coach, a company that helps professionals achieve better business results for less effort. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks. She has just been commissioned to write the FT Guide to Business Networking.

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