Overcoming Procrastination

“Tomorrow”: a mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored.”

For most of us, “Procrastination” is King

As we plunge into each day, it is easy to become derailed by trivial and non essential tasks. In fact, we often actively avoid the essential tasks out of fear and uncertainty, even though this makes us anxious. Brooding about unfulfilled tasks can lead to intrusive thoughts, while planning to complete them helps relieve those thoughts.

A physical To-Do list, whether on paper or digital, provides structure and magnetizes us to return to what matters most. But it needs to be carefully curated to prevent frustration and avoidance.

Avoiding the common traps of the To-Do list

Making a To-Do list should be easy: You just write down all the things you need to do, do them, and check them off your list as you go along, Right?

Wrong! Most of us fall into all kinds of traps with our To-Do lists. We allow wishful thinking to take over and put too many tasks on our lists.

We have lists all over the place, sometimes both, on paper and electronics. We put vague and unrealistic goals on our lists or we set up impossibly short time frames for completing our tasks.

Too often and too easily, our To-Do list will turn into “A Daily Failure List.” We put stuff on our To-Do list that we have no intention of doing.

Avoid the common traps of the To-Do list, so that it does not become a record of your failures: Restrict yourself to an “Humble To-Do List”.

The Humble To-Do List

Planned and executed wisely, the “Humble To-Do list” can be a goad to productivity.

On days when you have lots of things to do, a well thought To-Do list, breaking down large tasks into smaller ones, will help you set priorities thus avoiding procrastination. Put your list on paper. It is enormously satisfying to make a check mark with your pen against a finished task. On particularly harried days, draw empty boxes next to your tasks and check mark all completed tasks. Making a mark inside a box feels particularly emphatic. Writing down and checking off a task serves to “emblazon” it in your mind and offers positive reinforcement that is both visual and tactile.

For those of you who “think into their fingers and into the keyboard,” a digital To-Do list would make more sense. Whatever your preference, do not use both. Decide on a single, consistent system: paper or electronic, and use that system as the one and only place to record everything you need to do.

Group your personal and professional goals separately

Each day, most of us have personal goals along with professional ones. Keep your professional and personal goals on the same page or in the same file, but group them separately.

My suggestion is to keep four lists: one with life goals, along with yearly, weekly and daily lists. Life goals should flow into the yearly list, which should then flow into the weekly and daily lists. Say one of your life goals is to start a business: a yearly goal could be to write a business plan; a weekly goal could be to send emails to four business owners asking them if they would be willing to send their business plans to you; a daily goal could be to simply send one email.

Review your To-Do list daily

Spend 15 minutes each day reviewing what you have completed and planning your goals for the following day, plus two days beyond that. This will give you the chance to adjust your tasks and helps prevent last-minute crises.

A Daily To-Do list needs a strong dose of realism and specificity

It is important to add time estimates to your daily tasks. Estimating how long things take will not only help you plan your days more realistically, it will also help you take advantage of blocks of time that will open up unexpectedly.

Make sure to convert big, continuing tasks, like solving a client problem, into concrete, measurable action steps you can complete and cross off your list.

Keep your lists fairly short

Finally, keep your lists fairly short. It is so dispiriting when, at the end of the day, your To-Do list with fifteen items on it, or more, has only a few or maybe none at all checked off.

Better to pare down your To-Do list and make the goals on it less far-reaching.

One last word:

If you opt for the digital route, many To-Do apps are available, from Evernote, Astrid, Remember the Milk and Todoist, to name just a few. Personally, I prefer, use and recommend Evernote.

Most of these To-Do apps have the advantage of being able to sync across all your devices and calendars. Some apps even have options that let you share your To-Do items and have your friends egg you on to accomplish them. But therein lies a danger: You may not want to share all of your goals with everyone, especially the personal ones, and these could often accidentally end up on your shared lists.

Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m.

JMD Systemics,

A division of King Global earth and Environmental Sciences Corporation

How to get things done

Things to do to be productive without working 24/7.

I have a very busy life.

I am recovering from a colon cancer surgery and a three months hospitalisation and rehabilitation period following a failed laparoscopic cholecystectomy that went really bad.

I live with a very depressive and depressing woman.

I have to secure my future working as a Business Consultant; a Systemic Strategic Personal and Corporate Planner, a Crisis and Reputation Management Expert.

I am working with multiple clients at any given time.

I publish My Weekly Newsletters.

I publish my daily social media tips on Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and Tweeter.

I engage with hundreds of followers and, I still find time to spend some time with friends and go to the movies.

People are always asking me the same question: “How do you do it?” I don’t think of myself as being especially productive, but clearly other people do. So, I thought I’d share how I’m able to get everything done.

1.- I work for myself

Working for myself allows me to control most of my time and limits the distractions I have to deal with while working.

2.- I am big on process

I’m not super organized, but rather than focusing on outcomes, I am a big believer in developing processes to do things as efficiently as possible. I don’t spend my time reinventing the wheel every time I do something.

Three: I apply processes to my life

My work is not the only area in which I value processes. I use them in my life as well. This helps me develop habits and protect my work and life balance.

Four: I am a big fan of good writing

Writing comes relatively easy to me. I write well, fast and clean. This helps me writing anything in less time than it takes the average person.

Five: I am not a perfectionist

Generally, it doesn’t bother me to produce and release work that isn’t perfect. This is not to say that I don’t care about what I create. I still want it to be good, but I don’t agonize over every word or aspect of it.

Six: I know when to delegate and hire some help

While I’m basically a lone wolf, I don’t hesitate to hire and pay people to help me with things they can do a lot better, more efficiently and faster than I could do myself.

Seven: I am the master of my agenda

When scheduling meetings, I’m always first to suggest the date, time and location. I always try to schedule things based on what works best for me. Sometimes, this will not work and I would have to adjust but, I never just ask people; “When and where do you want to meet?”

Eight: I schedule every minute of my day, week and month

Every day, every week, every month and quarterly, early morning, I’ll schedule every minute of time. At the end of the day, productivity wise, it makes a huge difference.

Nine: I know when to take items out of my To Do list

I regularly take items out of my To Do list, things that I will never do and things that are not contributing in any way to what I really want to accomplish.

I’m also deliberate about taking on own new projects and avoid starting things without making a clear commitment to myself about how much time I will invest in them.

Ten: I am not afraid to quit doing anything when this is not working.

Failure doesn’t bother me much. I view it as a lesson learned and a step closer to an eventual success.

Eleven: The time I put into anything serves everything

I often recycle and repurpose my work. Long form blog posts become short form tweets, short form Instagram quotes become long form blog posts, old blog posts get re-shared, and on and on it goes.

One last word

I am also not afraid to say “No”. I am not afraid of avoiding and getting rid of toxic people.

Who needs the aggravation!


Skype @ jmdlive



Michel Ouellette / Joseph Michael Dennis, is a former attorney, a Trial Scientist, a Crisis & Reputation Management Expert, a Public Affairs & Corporate Communications Specialist, a Warrior for Common Sense and Free Speech.

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