When time is money: Tips for doing today what you were going to do tomorrow

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Time is money, and when we put those pesky, boring and yet important things off at work or in life, as we know, it can eventually cost us big time (think: that report that needs to be filed to the accounting department; your kid's health form that you need to fill out and send to their day camp).

Fortunately, the Washington Post had a meaty article yesterday about procrastination, and how we can strive to keep ourselves from putting things off. The main article, written by Christina Breda Antoniades, while interesting, was philosophical about procrastination, and if you're going to follow its advice, it requires some reflection on why you're constantly putting things off, which is why I plan on looking at the article more in-depth -- next week.

But for the time-starved procrastinator, the sidebar is especially helpful.
It offers seven strategies you can try following, but I particularly found these three valuable.

Get in the zone. If you only have a short period to do a task, let's say 30 to 60 minutes, obviously it's crucial that you don't spend the first 15 of those minutes forwarding jokes to your friends and reading articles like this one (did I say that?). So the article recommends that you take three to 12 deep breaths (inhale, hold, exhale; repeat) to create a type of mental sanctuary that lets you focus.

Accept discomfort. Not all tasks are fun or intellectually stimulating. Some things are tedious. But if you force yourself to accept it, and plow through that discomfort, eventually doing it now -- and not later -- will become a habit.

Choose to start. A lot of us say, "I have to finish," and there's an immediate sense of dread -- a long road ahead, a feeling of being controlled by the unknown, particularly if this is a time-intensive project you're putting off. Instead of looking at the finish line, think about the starting line -- and even if it's just a few minutes -- start. It's a little easier to focus on beginning than the ending.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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