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Break the procrastination habit

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in Office Management,Time Management

Sometimes we're not in the mood. Other times we're overwhelmed by the size or complexity of a project. And other times we're avoiding difficult tasks that make us uncomfortable. Whatever the case, procrastination will leave us worse off than we were before.

Are you in the habit of putting off tasks for no good reason? Take this quiz to see how well you do.

For each item, rate yourself from 1 ("rarely or never") to 5 ("almost always"):

  1. I tend to talk myself into thinking that unpleasant tasks are a lot more unbearable than they really are.
  2. I have so many interruptions that I can't concentrate on doing my assignments, so I end up not doing them.
  3. I won't start a job if I don't have all the information I need to finish it.
  4. I need to take a lot of time to analyze the data and think everything through before I make a decision.
  5. I can't put my thoughts to paper until I get inspired.
  6. I work better under pressure--or at least that's what I tell myself.
  7. I prefer to tackle big tasks all at once, rather than a little bit at a time.
  8. Once I decide to skip doing a task, I tend to forget to come back later and do it.
  9. I don't reward myself for having made important progress toward completing tasks.
  10. I would rather not tackle an assignment than execute it badly.
  11. I tend to go through bursts where I work very, very hard, and then through stretches where I'm not very productive.
  12. I find it difficult to stick to routines and schedules for doing recurring tasks.

What do your answers mean?

Add up all your scores (you should have between 12 and 60 points). On this self-assessment, lower scores are better. If your total score is less than 25 points, you're doing a good job of managing your own productivity and avoiding the procrastination trap. Now, that doesn't mean you don't face other time-management challenges--whether from being overloaded with work or frequently distracted by interruptions. But at least you're not making them worse.

At the other end of the scale, if your total score is more than 40 points, you're probably already aware of your problems with procrastination. It's important for us to be aware that some of the rationalizations we tell ourselves--like "I work well under pressure" or "I won't do a task if I can't do it well"--are really excuses. If you really work well under pressure, then put some pressure on yourself to get work done early. If you aren't sure how well you can do a task, then try it and see where you need help. There's almost always a way to regain control over your time and reduce the stress that results from procrastination.

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