How to Plan Instead of Procrastinate – Six Tips to Save Yourself the Stress of the Last Minute Rush

Procrastination goes like this. It begins with you putting off doing it, then it continues to rattle around in your head, remains vague, becomes a monster, and then builds until it’s overwhelming. The deadline comes along and you rush to complete the project. Sometimes it’s done well and sometimes not. The crisis passes and you get some relief until the next project or event. Planning can save you from the lurking distress of procrastination and the last minute stress to meet a deadline.

Another way of looking at it is that you see it in totality, which is overwhelming, rather than seeing it broken down into smaller actions, which are manageable.

Or you try to fully conceive the project in your head with all your questions answered before you get started. It’s just too much to keep in your head at one time and that causes stress and frustration which inhibits action to move forward.

Here are some tips to relieve the pressure, so you can make progress on the project, event or whatever it is you have to do with less stress.

Identify what it is. The first thing is to identify the who, what, when, where, and how of the project.

Get it out of your head. Begin to write it down in a notebook or electronic file so you can get it out of your head. Your conscious mind is best used for focusing not for storage as David Allen will tell you.

Chunk it down. This is another way of looking at the who, what, when, where, and how. Don’t let the monster take over. There are ways to break down any project into doable parts. Start to put your ideas into categories.

Prioritize. Keep asking yourself what is most important in the project and adjust things as you go.

Assign enough time. Often people don’t allow enough time to complete a task. The rule of thumb is to add 50% more time than you think it will take. So if you think it will take an hour for a task, plan on an hour and a half.

Delegate. And, last but not least, delegate tasks to other people. There is always more that can done by someone else than you think. Take a moment to identify tasks and people who can help.

You may protest that your free-form way of doing things is okay, but with a few minutes of focus on each of these steps you can get better results with less stress, so give it a try!

Jill McKean helps busy people pare down & simplify and improve their time management, so they can enjoy life more. She helps clients get organized both on-site and by phone coaching. Jill is a member of NAPO and NSGCD.

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