July 2012
The Anticrastination Tip Sheet

From Rita Emmett
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook

Quotes for July

Lost, yesterday,
somewhere between sunrise and sunset,
two golden hours,
each set with sixty diamond minutes.
No reward is offered
for they are gone forever. --- Horace Mann

Live Life Today! This is NOT a dress rehearsal --- Unknown

Procrastination is opportunity’s natural assassin. --- Victor Kiam, CEO of Remington

Message from Rita

Last month this Tip Sheet covered "Hypocritical Procrastination" and one common style of this practice, that of The Traveler. If you missed it, go to our web (very cleverly named RitaEmmett.com), scroll to near the bottom and find the section where you subscribe to this Tip Sheet. Below it, you'll see a link for past issues.

Today we'll cover a few more "styles" of Hypocritical Procrastination and solutions that work. One of the most common styles is The Preparer. This is when you simply cannot work on a project until you've done more research, obtained more information, read more books, attended more seminars. Some people can spend years preparing to start a project. This is okay if you’re putting off building a backyard deck, but if you work in sales and don’t call on your accounts because you’re waiting for the next quarterly report, your perfect preparation may cost your company the sale and you the commission, if not your job.

Another variation is The Socializers. The mere thought of doing a task suddenly reminds them to call friends and relatives they haven't thought about in years. Or to have an in depth discussion with their spouse. At work, Socializers visit co-workers, wandering from desk to desk, station to station, office to office just to put off whatever it is they don't want to do.

Then there are The Straighteners, who suddenly decide that good quality work cannot possibly be accomplished in messy working conditions. So they organize and re arrange and dust and throw away and vacuum and file until they can look at the clock and mumble, "Well, it's too late to start that today. Guess I'll have to wait till I get the time."

One of the most prevalent variations of Hypocritical Procrastination is The Happy Helper. It’s also the most subtle and insidious. Have you ever put aside work you should do -- but you don’t want to do -- in order to help someone … whether he needed that help or not?

When your help is actually necessary, it isn’t procrastination. But sometimes “Happy Helpers” are being manipulated by people whose needs are not valid. Beware of people who are experts at convincing you that YOU are in charge of THEIR problems. They try to convince you that if you don't join their committee, you will cause the whole project to fail. OR if you don't watch her kids while they go away for the weekend, you might cause their marriage to disintegrate.

I'm not advocating that you stop helping your family or friends. But be careful when others put you in charge of their problems. Your help could be preventing them from growing and becoming more responsible. Meantime, you delay getting your own work done, which can create problems for yourself. You may be lying awake at night worrying about other peoples’ problems, while they are snuggled in bed sound asleep, carefree, because they've passed their concerns over to you.

Often, Happy Helpers will say that they are happiest when helping others. Perhaps that's true, but that help might be creating problems. If you regret all the work you're putting aside while you help others; if helping others means that you are neglecting your family or yourself, or putting your goals and dreams on hold, or that you are not finishing work you were hired to do; then it's time to set healthy boundaries on the help you give. To always say yes to requests can lead to exhaustion, resentment, and downright hostility. Understand this -- you can become assertive and still remain a kind, loving, polite human being, and get your work done, too.

The key to eliminating Hypocritical Procrastination is first of all to recognize that you are doing it. Watch for it - those times that you find yourself cleaning out desk drawers when you planned on calling and expressing your sympathy to an acquaintance, that you find yourself rearranging the linen closet when you promised yourself you’d exercise, meditate or write in your journal, or you find yourself spending time on the computer (facebook, anyone?) when something important is being pushed aside.

Next, you have to MAKE A DECISION that you are going to do that job or project. Hypocritical Procrastination and all its variations have one tendency in common: lack of focus. Once you start to focus by setting a deadline for a task or making a commitment such as writing it on a to-do list, the “other important things to do” which generate this style of procrastination tend to melt away.

You all sent many responses to last month's tip sheet telling me about all the "noble" things you do in order to put off something you were supposed to do. This one made me laugh the most.
A perceptive, good-looking reader named Linda wrote that she used reading this Tip Sheet to put off re-upholstering chairs … which she was doing to avoid writing the outline for a new class she planned to teach.
(Is that considered a "double"?)


Are you trying to write a book but have tons of questions about it? Hold these dates. Sat. Sept 8 and Sat. Sept. 15
More info to come


Please share this Tip Sheet with 2 or 3 friends who would be interested. And feel free to use this message in your blog or newsletter, as long as you include my bio and contact info:

Rita Emmett
Author of The Procrastinator's Handbook,
The Clutter-Busting Handbook and
Manage Your Time to Reduce Your Stress: A Handbook for the Overworked, Overscheduled, and Overwhelmed
2331 Eastview
Des Plaines, IL 60018

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