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“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” —Henry Ford

Do you struggle with procrastination and distractions? Do you promise yourself that you will get around to doing something and then time seems to slip away and other obligations or “important” things come and fill up the time you needed? Do you have trouble motivating yourself to do tasks that you know need to be done, but somehow seem hard to start or finish? We all have these struggles. It is so hard to do what we know we should do, but don’t feel like doing.

We find all kinds of ways to get out of doing them. We find ourselves some very believable excuses and give ourselves rewards for doing literally nothing of importance. We pamper ourselves with the promise of “after I ____ (fill in the blank with your favorite reward), I will get down to the task. We let distractions ( a call from a friend, a sudden need to check facebook) keep us from our task. And then, later in the day, we look at the time and realize how little we have done and how fast the time has flown by.

In his book The Power Of Your Potential, Author John Maxwell writes about how to focus and follow through on tasks in order to be more efficient and waste less time. He lists 6 keys to do this.

1.Know What Is Important

Before we do anything, it is important to know why we are doing what we do. If we don,t know why we are doing a task or a project, it is very difficult to prioritize it or give it any time in our schedule. And when we don’ t prioritize our tasks, we end up wasting a lot of time on activities that take us away from more meaningful tasks or activities. We also end up falling into the “busyness” trap and lose control of our time and choices.

It is important to have a big picture of how each task or activity fits into the larger picture of our life – our values and goals. Imagine having a big box called our vision. inside the box, we place all the jobs, experiences and activities that are connected with or contribute to bringing us closer to that vision. When we have this box or framework of what we want then it is easier to put aside all activities which do not line up with this vision and classify them as ‘not important now’. How can we focus on what is important?

Have a big picture

  • Prioritize – set apart the important from the urgent, but not important. and the important from the nonimportant

  • People before things always

  • Focus on what is important now

  • Know why you are doing what you do

2. Get Rid of Excuses

We all, make excuses. They are so easy to make and  help us avoid doing what we don’t want to or don’t feel like doing. but excuses also prevent us from facing responsibilities, being accountable and even learning very important lessons. Making excuses can also hold us back from opportunities. In fact, they can actually cause us to go back and act as barriers to success. What are some of the excuses we make?

  • I’m too busy /I don’t have time

  • I don’t know-how

  • I’m too old or too young

  • I don’t know how

  • I can’t do it by myself

  • I’ll do it when I retire

  • I don’t have the energy


Excuses hold us back and they:


  • Make us lose credibility in our eyes and the eyes of others

  • Cause us to lose confidence

  • Close doors in our lives

Imagine that you are driving down the highway on your way to the desired destination possibly a vacation spot. What would it be like if you got off at every exit on the way there? Probably it would take you a lot longer to get where you want to go and a lot of frustration would ensue. Making excuses is like getting off at all those exits. They prevent you from getting where you want to go or at least make it a long journey, and they cause a lot of frustration long term. They may even prevent you from doing what you would like to do or from going where you want to go. How many people put off traveling because they tell themselves that they will have time later. Later may never come, but regrets certainly will.

How can we overcome the excuse syndrome?

  • Decide to stop blaming people and circumstances

  • Decide to act

  • Break down the tasks into bite-size tasks

  • Focus on strengths

  • Take responsibility

  • Learn from mistakes


“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” —Paul J. Meyer


3. Take Action Before You Feel Like It

We won’t always feel like doing what we know we should do. Feelings come and go, but they shouldn’t rule our life or our decisions.  We need to make decisions and accomplish tasks based on what is important and needs to be done. Sometimes we want to wait to be inspired, but if we wait for this to happen, we may be waiting a long time. And often a task that we don’t feel like doing is one that we don’t feel comfortable doing or that we feel less confident doing. Other times it is simply because of the task being uninteresting or tedious. So, rather than getting to work, we procrastinate.

There are some questions we could ask ourselves to overcome this “inertia”.

  • What is likely to happen if we don’t do this task? Is it or will it be problematic?

  • What can I do right now, today to move ahead? Can I break down the task into smaller “bites”?

  • Can I enlist the help of others to multiply the effort and get it done faster?

4. Don’t Let Distractions Distract You

Do you find yourself spending more time on jobs or projects than you need to or on tasks/ activities that don’t give you much in return? Are there other tasks/projects that will bring you more value?  In other words, do you find that you tend to waste time doing things that are not all that important and take time away from doing things that will bring you and others more value?

We all have this “busyness” disease. We scurry around looking like we are occupied, rushing from one task to the next or even multi-tasking and, in the end, we wonder where the time has gone and whether or not we have accomplished anything. We do a lot of things, but often we do not have much to show for all our activity. We get distracted by the urgent, but not important problems. We start a task only to be interrupted by something else, which leads to something else and then finally, we forget where we started or what we were doing,


Some things we can do to correct this situation are:


  • Learn to distinguish what is important from what is urgent, but not important.

  • Set priorities

  • Have a plan for the day, but allow for changes and interruptions

  • People first, then things

  • Learn to say no to what is not important

5. Be Aware Of Time

We all talk about time, how much we have or don’t have of it. We talk about it going slowly or flying by. Most of the time it seems as if time is in control of our day. But are we really aware of time as a tool or as a gift for us to use to live with, share with others and accomplish meaningful things? Time counts, literally. It ticks by often unnoticed. How well are we using this gift?

Sometimes we overestimate the time we have. We give ourselves large margins of time and then we end up wasting some of it because we somehow believed we had more than enough. We miscalculate and undervalue our time. We have all heard the misguided expression “We have all the time in the world”, haven’t we? No, we do not have all the time in the world. We only have today. So, the question becomes: what will we do with the time we have today? Tomorrow today will become yesterday.

  • Be realistic about the time you have and the tasks to accomplish

  • Give yourself challenging but realistic deadlines

  • Focus on what is important at the moment


“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” – Zig Ziglar


6. Follow Through Even When It Hurts

We may be tempted to give up and throw in the towel when things get tough or when we just don,t feel like continuing. I think it is safe to say that we have all had times when quitting seemed like the best thing to do. But backing out of a commitment is the worst thing we can do. First of all, it opens the door to a habit of taking the easy path when the going gets tough. It can also diminish our confidence in ourselves and also the trust others have in us.

Whatever we commit to or start needs to be carried through to completion. By keeping to our promises, we can learn important lessons and skills as well as resilience and perseverance. Following through with our commitments also shows respect towards ourselves and others involved. The bottom line is: can we be trusted to do and finish what we said we would do and finish?

What things can we do to help in this area?

  • Count the cost – what sacrifices are necessary?

  • Be honest with expectations

  • Give yourself deadlines

  • Give yourself incentives and rewards (for accomplishments)

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Diana Lynne loves to travel, pursue self-improvement and debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and her dog Skye. You can connect with her through