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Tame the procrastination beast

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The fact is that everyone procrastinates. Everyone has too much to do and too little time in which to do it. So what can you do to stop procrastinating? There are many techniques you can use to overcome—or at least manage—wasting time. Here are some of them:

1.    Program your subconscious mind. Perhaps the most powerful words you can use to increase your productivity are “Do it now! Do it now! Do it now!” Whenever you find yourself delaying an important task, repeat these words out loud to yourself. 

The amazing thing is that after you repeat these words 10, 20 or even 100 times, you will have programmed your subconscious mind to start your most important task and complete it before you do anything else. 

Throughout the day, when you are distracted from your most important task by people, emails, telephone calls and whatever else, take back control of yourself by repeating the words “Back to work! Back to work! Back to work!”

2.    Use task management and break big tasks into small parts. Any big task can be completed if you break it down into small enough parts. One of the best techniques is to divide your task into what are called “bite-sized pieces.” Take a piece of paper and write down every small part of the task that you have to do, in sequence, from the first little job to the final one. 

Then, discipline yourself to do “number one” on your list. Sometimes, the decision to complete the first task impels you forward to the next one. And sometimes just forcing yourself to start a major task will enable you to develop the momentum and energy necessary to work right through until it’s complete.

3.    Use the “salami slice” method. Another method to stop procrastinating is called the “salami slice” method. This is similar to the method above. Just as you would not attempt to eat a loaf of salami in one bite, do not try to complete a large task all at once. Instead, “salami-slice” the task by breaking it down into small parts. Then resolve to complete one small part at a time before going on to something else. 

Each time you sit down with your major task (especially if you are overwhelmed by other pressing responsibilities) resolve to complete one step at a time. Often this strategy will get you started on the project and make it easier to complete parts two, three, four and so on.

Everyone procrastinates, but if you can program your subconscious mind and break up your tasks, you’ll find you’re able to get much more done.

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Brian Tracy is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in business training, and the author of the best-selling Psychology of Achievement. For more information, go to


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