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Time - Your most valuable asset in the war against procrastination

Research shows that people spend most of their time and effort working on activities that have nothing to do with the success of their projects. I'm convinced that procrastination is the main reason people fail to live richer lives. If you want to get serious about eliminating the habit of procrastination, you can start right now by recognizing that your most valuable asset is time.

- Learn how to use your time efficiently. Make sure that people know when you don't want to be interrupted-don't blame other people when you don't have enough time to finish a task. When you miss a deadline, plan how you're going to finish the remainder of the work instead of making excuses about why you didn't get it done on time. Then do it.

- Procrastination is the No. 1 cause of stress. Do you ever wonder why the most successful entrepreneurs-people like Bill Gates, for instance-always seem so relaxed in interviews and public appearances? They work harder than most of us and they make billion-dollar decisions that the rest of us will never have to face in life, yet they never seem stressed out, worried, or depressed. Why not? Research shows that stress is caused by leaving too many things undone. That's why habitual procrastinators always complain about chronic fatigue-putting things off creates enormous stress in our lives, which manifests itself as fatigue.

- Break down your long-term goals into manageable segments and milestones. Without a way of measuring your progress on long-term goals, you can easily delude yourself into believing that you're making progress when you're just spinning your wheels. Setting project milestones is a good way to measure your progress and stay focused.

- Reserve some time each day for working on your long-term projects. Spend most of your time on the things that need to be done this week, but try to spend some time each day on work that helps you make progress toward your long-term goals. The tasks that help you achieve long-term goals are easy to leave undone. They don't seem urgent in the way that telephone calls seem urgent, but they usually represent our most important goals in life. In many cases, these larger goals get pushed off the radar screen by the countless distractions and "urgent" but unimportant things that demand our attention throughout the day.

You need to spend 75 to 80% of your time on jobs you have to wrap up this week. Dedicate the rest of your time to projects that need to be finished in the next six months. Have you set milestones for these projects? How are you measuring your progress on each project?

Always ask yourself: What have I learned about the consequences of procrastination, based on the decisions I made-or failed to make-yesterday? Never lose sight of what's most important in life, and ask yourself every day: If I only get one thing done today, what must that one thing be? Then get it done.


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