101 TIPS FOR AVOIDING PROCRASTINATION

Lesson 7: Bonus tips

This section contains your bonus tips. Some you can use, some are not relevant to you. There’s no logical order to these tips, but at least this is a bonus that is tax free!

Your morning paper is divided into sections, and each section caters to the needs and expectations of specific family members.

The news and business sections will be the sections for good old dad, cooking and arts section for mom, fashion for the young teen in the household and international politics for the budding intellectual junior.

Let’s use these sections to serve as the springboards for your bonus tips: headlines, business, health, fashion, cuisine, environment, real estate, and readers’ turn to write.

We repeat, there’s no logic here, only a method to the madness. Refer back to them from time to time, when you feel your life is spiraling down into madness and chaos. And don’t forget your mantra!


Tip # 86 Headlines – just doing my duty to the country

If your leaders are pondering war and your beliefs go the other way, write your congressman a note – it doesn’t have to be a flawlessly written letter. Urge him not to sign any legislation that hints at the country taking up arms. Suggest negotiation instead of confrontation, diplomacy in place of ultimatums, peace, not war. This way, you’ve done your civic duty, and you’re not procrastinating about potentially saving a beautiful country.


Tip # 87 Headlines – they’re changing Medicare laws again

Quick, take pen and paper and send off another note. If the changes in your country’s health care act will affect you adversely, don’t wait for others to take up arms. Be among the first to protest. If thousands – or millions – do the same thing and it’s an election year – these letters might just change your leaders’ stance. Would you rather procrastinate than pay a 25% increase in your yearly drug bill?


Tip # 88 Business – cut your losses

If you haven’t learned from the Nortel fiasco, don’t wait until the next major stock in your portfolio turns into another Nortel – or Enron – or Worldcom. You know what happened to the small investor – he thought the stock, being a blue chip, might pick up momentum again.

Well, it started as a lackluster stock, and then it became sluggish, finally becoming a junk stock. There were millions of procrastinators waiting around for the stock market to do a 360 degree turn.

Money theorists agree. It’ll be awhile before we see another spectacular performance like the one we jubilated over on the eve of the millennium. Everyone felt rich when 2000 rolled around. A lot of them are now in debt.


Tip # 89 Business – ask a financial planner to help you out

Your local banker would be more than willing to refer you to one of the bank’s in-house financial planners. If you’ve fared poorly with finances, or want to have a better grasp of money matters, a financial planner could be a life saver.

Sit down with your planner: tell him how you owe, how much you want to save for retirement, what assets and liabilities are on your books - he’ll do the rest.


Tip # 90 Health – overbooked agenda making you procrastinate again?

Keep it simple. If you have too much to do, what hours are left for your health and fitness goals? Are you using your overbooked agenda as another excuse not to go to the gym or take that tennis lesson package your husband gave you for your birthday?

If you procrastinate further, 5 pounds will become 10, then 15, and it gets harder as you add more pounds. It’s much, much harder to shed those pounds when you get to 30 pounds overweight. Tackle the weight issue while the pound gain is still minimal and manageable.


Tip # 91 Health – that newly-opened Pilates center might be worth a visit.

“Bah…it’s just a fad, it’ll go away when a new exercise routine is invented.” We detect a hint of procrastination in this statement. Even if it’s just a fad, at least it’s a healthy fad. Hop into the car and check it out. Most clubs will let you try out a week of free membership. You may not know it, but Pilates is producing stronger backs and more solid core muscles, and turning people into happy, pain-free individuals. Why hesitate? What have you got to lose?


Tip # 92 Fashion: calling all young entrepreneurs

You spotted this tiny item in the fashion section about a boutique downtown that’s searching for talent. “If you’ve got pieces of jewelry you want to sell, we’d be happy to take a look.”

You’ve had these necklaces and other trinkets gathering dust somewhere. Once upon a time you were proud of them but were too shy to show them to friends and family. The boutique’s description of the kind of hand-crafted jewelry they’re looking for sounds like it was tailor-made for you.

Don’t hesitate! Those tiny beads and miniature semi-precious stones could be your ticket to a bigger, dazzling world of fashion and entrepreneurship.


Tip # 93 Fashion: drab, boring hairstyle?

Hate your hair? How about a visit to a salon near you? You’ll be amazed at the number of miracle workers they have on site. And the range of hair products these days is incredible. Remember that cliché about hair being your crowning glory? Corny, but true. Give your hair the care it deserves. As the optimists love to say, “You never know whom you’ll meet.”


Tip # 94 Cuisine: win his heart back

You might be taking a risk with new, sexy underwear. Why don’t you follow the oldie but goodie rule: win his heart through his stomach.

Even your friends say they won’t eat what you cook. Admit it’s your major failing and take cooking lessons at your community’s recreational center. A new hobby is food for the soul, a drug-free stimulant for the mind. When you graduate from the course – kudos to you for not procrastinating – you may just bring the old lover back.


Tip # 95 Cuisine: show off the gourmet cook in you

Your local paper has been publishing requests for recipes. Delight readers by digging old recipes from grandma’s time and you could be a winning author! Submit your recipe entry and keep your fingers crossed.

Some women have “accidentally” started food and catering businesses because they weren’t shy about sharing an ingredient or two. If you think your recipe deserves a Pillsbury prize or whatever other prize is being offered, don that apron and go for it!


Tip # 96 Environment

Is anyone paying attention to the Kyoto accords? How does one NOT procrastinate in doing what’s good for the environment?

Here are a few suggestions:

• Write your municipal officials and encourage them to send our regular reminders to local residents that recycling boxes are available at city hall – for free. Ask them to publish recommendations on the art of composting and how to filter through household waste.

• Take the initiative and sort out your garbage everyday. Recycle whenever possible.

• If you have free time, offer your services for free to an environmental cause. Communities organize spring clean-ups annually. Give of your time.

Don’t procrastinate. The environment needs you. Help your children breathe cleaner, healthier air.


Tip # 97 Environment – river running dry?

Again, here’s where pen and paper can be powerful tools. Don’t delay writing to your local officials about a factory or plant that is violating environmental regulations. Report it to the authorities before the clouds become heavy with pollutants and the rivers run dry.


Tip # 98 Real estate: property values – way, way up!

An individual was overheard saying in the café the other day that he’d never forgive himself for stalling in his decision to buy a piece of property that had everything – location, great low maintenance condition, reasonable price, recent renovations, etc.

The owners, who didn’t really care about making a profit because they were going into a retirement facility shortly, were only asking for $200,000.00.

By procrastinating, the individual missed out on the property because someone else – who was less of a procrastinator – grabbed it. The property is now appraised at $450,000.00, up $250,000.00 from four years ago.

Now you know the truth - procrastination is an expensive mistake.


Tip # 99 Real estate: clean up before the doorbell rings

Your real estate agent already warned you once before: don’t wait until the last minute to clean up the yard and tidy up the house. The open house is going to take place any day now. You’ve put it off until the day before, and the cleaning up is taking longer than you thought.

Next day, the doorbell rings, and the weeds were not pulled out, the shrubs not trimmed, the hallway not cleared of clutter, and the kitchen faucet is leaking. The closets are unrecognizable. The books on the shelves are covered in dust. The flowers are wilting. And you forgot to do this…and that…

The buyers said thank you anyway, and looked at another house.


Tip # 100 It’s your turn…

Calling all writers! National newspapers usually allot a section to readers who want to try their hand at writing about a personal experience or about a how-to project that they can share with readers.

You’ve always aspired to write, but you keep voicing out the same, tired excuse: “I’m not feeling inspired,” or “I have writer’s block.”

Actually, accomplished writers all echo the same thing: don’t wait for a flash of lightning to shake you out of the doldrums, or that writer’s block will go away and you’ll be churning out pages in no time. The only time you’ll write is when you stop procrastinating and start typing words on your keyboard. They don’t have to be eloquent at first, just type whatever comes to mind.

For writers, the opposite of procrastinating is warming up. If you want to be a writer, you should take this very seriously. One brilliant writer suggested that to warm up, she uses this trick and it works 99.9% of the time.
Type a passage from a favorite author’s book. Pretend you’re the one writing it. Next, try to paraphrase it. You don’t realize it but you’ve already started to write by putting your own words. If you devote 30 minutes each day doing this exercise, you’ll be on your merry way to being a wordsmith!


Tip # 101 More on the writing life

Writing contests are abundant. There are thousands in North America, more across the Pacific, and a whole lot more in Europe and Asia. Most of these publishing entities have web sites wherein they advertise their monthly, quarterly and annual contests.

If you don’t know what writing contests to enter, just type “writing contests” on any search engine and you’ll get all the information you need: type of writing (mystery, non-fiction, poetry, novellas, flash fiction, etc), prize money, entry fee (if any), deadline and format required.

If you started a story but never got around to finishing it, fish it out of your hard drive and finish it. Don’t let the fear of rejection make you procrastinate. “What if it’s not good enough?” “What if I’m a lousy writer?”

Heed this advice from Jeff Hermann (Writers’ Guide to Book Editors, Publishers and Literary Agents, 2000): “In my experience, the most insurmountable walls are the ones in your heads. No rejection is fatal until the writer walks away from the battle leaving the written work behind, undefended and unwanted.”


 Conclusion

We could come up with a second batch of 101 tips to get you out of your inertia, but if you don’t at least try five out of the 101 tips we’ve just shared with you, you’ll never be in control of your own time. You certainly are not expected to execute on all 101 tips. That would be an impossible mission, too tall an order, and downright an unrealistic goal.

Lester R. Bittel in his book, “Right on Time” (McGrawHill, 1991) calls procrastination an insidious temptation that plagues all of us. What may appear to be harmless procrastination can turn harmful - if done to excess.

Procrastination means losing precious time, wasting valuable resources and missing life’s golden opportunities.
Mastering your time and optimizing your resources are excellent remedies for procrastination. But they’re not miracle cures, nor are they instant therapies. Only you can manage the absence of productivity in your life.

You can surround yourself with experts who excel at multi-tasking, time management and all these nice-sounding principles emanating from the Harvard School of Management, but if you don’t act on their advice, procrastination will not disappear – ever.

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. That sounds almost biblical, but it rings true when we’re talking about Bittel’s “insidious temptation.”

An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. If you just keep thinking things out without doing, then you’re only cheating yourself. The doing is the most important. For it is in the doing that you produce results you want.

It is in the doing that you discover hidden sources of your creativity. It is in the doing that you gain momentum. It is in the doing that you become a refined problem-solver. And the more you do, the quicker you become.

You have the means – 101 tips – to banish the devil forever. Let him play his tricks in someone else’s workshop. Once you’ve learned not to procrastinate in most aspects of your daily life, success is only a step away.
“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

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