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Procrastination Can Be Managed, with Right Attitude and Skills, Experts Say

Posted Aug 14, 2012 5:20 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Being a procrastinator isn't something to feel bad about. Those with this personality trait can make the most of it by knowing themselves and adjusting accordingly, a guest columnist in the Wall Street Journal writes.

For example, do you tend to get involved in a string of nonwork-related Internet searches that can while away an entire morning when you check your email? There's a simple way to solve this problem—unplug your laptop or swig down a large glass of water at the outset. That will force a break in your Web-surfing before the day is too far along, says John Perry, an emeritus professor of philosophy at Stanford University. Perry is the author of a soon-to-be-published book, The Art of Procrastination.

Meanwhile, since many procrastinators tend to delay working on one project by substituting another, the key is not to pare down activities but to manage this personality trait in a productive way, he recommends. Recognize that you are an accomplished person who gets a lot done and give yourself permission not to strive for perfection in any given project, which can be an obstacle to simply getting it done at an acceptable level.

While being late to court isn't a good idea, delay can sometimes be a useful problem-solving tactic. What lawyer in practice hasn't seen a seemingly critical project eliminated by an unexpected new development, changed fact pattern or settlement? Likewise, thinking a bit and breaking a project down into manageable pieces instead of simply launching into it can also help cut down the overall time spent working on it.

"There are times when delay is the best approach to take to an activity," points out a Daily Courier column incorporating suggestions from several experts.

When action is needed now, the article offers a specific list of suggestions to help procrastinators focus on what's really important and get the job done.

Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk points to a helpful list of 21 tips to help procrastinators get started recently posted by the Time Management Ninja.

Perry suggests that procrastinators can also improve their work lives by reducing the aggravating effect they sometimes have on others. Frankly admitting that they are imperfect managers of their own time is a good way to do so, he writes.

"After you lose 20 pounds, get in shape, polish up your high-school French, and write that novel, you may get around to pursuing some self-help regimen that will eliminate this flaw from your personality. But for now, don't compound the flaw with denial. If you admit to being a procrastinator, others will probably try hard to find something nice to say about you."

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: "Better Never than Late: Fix the Problem If You’re Always Running Behind in Your Work"

California Litigation Attorney Blog: "The Perils of Procrastination – Misunderstanding a Statute of Limitations"

Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers: "Pattern of Procrastination and Avoidance Hurting Practice "

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