Deadlines are well named.  Looking at the word, someone or something will die, if this mystical timeframe is not satisfied.  My first challenges with deadlines came from my husband.  Each morning when he left for work,  he would leave a list of things I had to do and people I had to call and errands I had to run.   Because I was a stay-at-home mom in those days, he felt that I needed his supervision to give me tasks and duties to keep me busy.  It wasn’t until he retired, forty years later, that he realized how many things I already shuffled in my frying pan. 

He would arrive at work at 8am and call me for an update on my daily progress.  Another call at noon, then at 2pm and finally at 4pm to insure that his list was completed.  Of course, many of the phone calls and tasks he wanted done could not be completed until the afternoon.  Also, I knew that my real deadline was 5:45pm when he walked through the door.  Sure, I met the 5:45 deadline; but I also learned a lot about the fine-art of  procrastination.

Breaking the procrastination habit took years of deliberate effort and I find that I still fall back on to that position when I am uncertain about how to proceed with a project or task.  Here are some things I’ve learned that have helped me to break this nasty habit.

  1. Start your day with prayer.  Make it your first priority.  When John Wesley was asked how he could indulge in an hour of prayer each morning with his busy schedule.  Wesley replied, “My schedule is so busy that I cannot afford to NOT spend that hour in prayer.”
  2. Make a list of the things you need to accomplish in the day.  Lists have been found to be one of the best self-modivators ever devised. 
  3. Clear out the clutter in your life.  This may not seem to fit.  However, the experts agree that clutter is a deterring distractor in many people’s lives.  In the clutter resides a multitude of tasks that should be or must be done. 
  4. As we discussed yesterday, make an artificial deadline for the task to be completed which is well-ahead of the real deadline.
  5. Divide the task into pieces.  The hardest projects become manageable when you are only completing parts and pieces.  This is a valuable trick I learned years ago while listening a soap opera.  The younger woman said to her aunt looking at a completed sweater that the aunt had just knitted, “I could never knit a sweater.”  The aunt replied, “Oh, neither could I.  I’ve never knitted a sweater.  It would be too much work.  I knit one arm.  Then the next arm.  Then I knit the back; then the front.”  That was an aha moment for me.  I’ve never written any books.  But I’ve written the chapters of about 7  books.
  6. Reward yourself when the task is completed.  It can be as simple as allowing yourself to watch your favorite TV show without any nagging guilt.  Or an ice cream cone.  A wise friend told me that she would allow herself to have her second cup of coffee, sitting outside enjoying the sunshine or the rain only when she had completed all her morning tasks.  The important thing is to decide on the reward and stick with it. 

Of course, there are a multitude of things that help with the deadline issue.  What are some of the things you have learned which help you?