Ex-procrastinator says ‘Take charge of your life’

Wednesday, March 22

By Elizabeth Voss

All the professional men and women attending the "Conquering Procrastination" seminar at the O’Hare Hyatt Hotel last Tuesday admitted that they "often feel overwhelmed and then procrastinate about EVERYTHING".

But Rita Emmett, the presenter, said that she, too, used to be a procrastinator; now she has conquered it.

Emmett, a "Recovering procrastinator", is a professional speaker who designs talks for businesses and organizations throughout the nation.

"I was born a procrastinator" she said. "I always felt things were out of my control. I wanted to do it but I couldn’t do it. I’m not a procrastinator any more. Now I hardly ever put things off and when I do, it’s a choice."

She scribbled across a blackboard, "Emmett’s Law: The dread of doing a job uses up more time and energy than doing the job itself."

"You spend hours dreading a task, sometimes days," she said. "Then you finally go to do it and it takes 20 minutes."

Erma Bombeck told a story of being haunted by a pile of mending, Emmett said. Every time she looked at the pile she felt guilty. When she finally went to do it, she discovered clothes her children had outgrown and was through with the pile in 15 minutes.

Procrastinators often take on other characteristics, such as being lost in clutter, or always arriving late, she said.

People who are always late may not value timeliness, she continued. Although most Americans view tardiness as rude, many non-Western cultures are much more relaxed about time, she said.

A fear of wasting time may be behind habitual lateness, she added. Instead of arriving early and possibly wasting 15 minutes waiting, you give yourself minimal time to get there and make the other person wait, she explained.

Instead of viewing it as a possible waste of time, you might plan things to do while you are waiting, she said. Like bring a book to a doctor’s appointment.

Emmett’s Law: The dread of doing a job uses up more time and
energy than doing the job itself. 

With all the junk mail and catalogs that circulate today, it may seem impossible to get a grip on your mail, Emmett said.

"A lot of us were raised with rules," she said. "You feel, ‘’I have to read everything that I get in the mail.’ You get a catalog and you’re afraid if you don’t look through it you might miss something."

Those who get lost in clutter tend to stack up unread junk mail and catalogs, thinking eventually they’ll get around to reading them, she said.

The way to conquer that problem is to learn to throw it away, she said.

"You have to realize this is the era of paper clutter. If you throw something away, you WILL survive."

A desk or a good filing system can help you organize and gain a sense of control over paper, she said.

"Whatever’s accumulating needs a place," she said. Find a place for it, and you’ll feel so much more free and uncluttered. Time management and procrastination have a lot to do with self-esteem.

Junk savers

The same people who won’t throw away their junk mail, save all sorts of junk no one will ever use, Emmett said.

She told a story of helping a friend move, and lugging 18 years of National Geographic magazines from the old home to the new one, and another story about a fellow replacing a broken toaster but keeping the old one in the basement in case he ever got around to fixing it.

"You have to ask yourself, "How long do I want to be the caretaker of this? If I clean, I have to clean around it. If I move, I have to move it with me,’" she said.

"Haven’t some of you lived long enough to realize the stuff you’re saving nobody wants?" she asked the group.

Pack rats may find it impossible to throw away the 18 years of National Geographic, she said, but why not give them to a veterans hospital or a school? There are many charitable organizations such as Goodwill Industries or homes for battered women that would gladly take the clothes you've outgrown or books in your basement, she noted.

But you may have to ask a friend to throw away your broken toaster, she said.

"You’re not going to miss it" she said. "You’re not going to say, "I wish I had eight broken toasters in my basement.’"

Sometimes just beginning to throw things away is all it takes to learn it doesn’t hurt, she said.

Fear of Failure

People may procrastinate because they’re afraid of making mistakes, she said. Rather than do the job and have a flawed outcome, they do nothing. "Take a new attitude about mistakes," Emmett said. "Mistakes are learning lessons."

She handed out a postcard that said, "The person who never makes a mistake probably isn’t doing any-thing." It will take a load off your shoulders to realize that striving for excellence is achievable, but perfection seldom is, she said. Procrastination is often a mind game, she explained.

"Part of the reason we procrastinate is we’re focused on how terrible we’ll feel doing it," she said. "Change the focus to how good you’ll feel when it’s done."

Time it

Another tip is to set a kitchen timer for one hour and spend it doing a dreaded task such as organizing papers or housekeeping, Emmett said. Then when the timer dings, you may find the job is finished, or that it may require more time but you feel so good about seeing the light the end of tunnel that you may go ahead and finish the job.

"And then you are learning one of the key secrets to conquering procrastination," Emmett said, "That is, you didn’t dread doing the whole job, you simply dreaded getting started."

Rita Emmett presents talks and seminars on a variety of subjects to organizations, associations & conferences. For further information call Rita at (847) 699-9950


Want to write a book? Go to Rita’s web site www.RitaEmmett.com and click on The Writer’s Room. Take a look at Rita's The Procrastinator's Guide To Authorship: Stop Putting Off Your Success. Find a free article about writing proposals in The Writer’s Room

Don’t procrastinate in going there now.

Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook, is a professional speaker who presents Keynotes and Seminars nationwide. She can be reached at 847-699-9950 and email is Rita@RitaEmmett.com

To subscribe to her free monthly Anticrastination Tip sheet with quick short tips & ideas to help break the procrastination & clutter habit, click here Subscribe

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