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Overcoming procrastination: Don't let New Year's resolutions slip away

With a new year underway, be prepared to recognize procrastination and know how to take action to overcome putting things off.

We are all guilty of it at one time or another, but if you realize that you are procrastinating more often then you are getting things done, then it is time to work on it.

Procrastination is the avoidance of getting a task accomplished. Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, self doubt, depression, and can lead to chronic procrastination.

6 reasons why we procrastinate

1. Poor time management skills. Are you uncertain of your goals or priorities? Are you overwhelmed? Are you taking on more than you can handle or are you afraid to say "No"? When you are overwhelmed or not managing your time wisely, it's easy for you to put off tasks for a later date or spend time doing things are not a priority.

2. Do you have difficulty focusing? When you sit down to do work or study, do you find yourself day dreaming? Falling asleep, watching TV, etc.?

Is it that your environment is noisy? Is your desk cluttered or disorganized? Are you reclining in your bed while studying or working?

3. Fear/anxiety - Are you afraid of failure? Rejection or success? Do you spend more time on worrying or asking what if?

4. Low self-esteem - Are you constantly thinking negative beliefs or thoughts such as: I'm a failure, I can't succeed in anything or I'm stupid? The negativity can stop you from getting things done.

5. Personal problems - Example: Break up or divorce, financial difficulties, problems with friends or family.

6. Unrealistic expectations or perfectionism - Do you believe you have to do everything 100%? Are you being realistic? Example: are you taking too many classes at school while working a full-time job?

8 tips to overcome procrastination

1. After reading through the reasons outlined above, be honest and ask yourself the questions from above? Recognize your reasons why?

2. Figure out your short term goals - goals from now until one year.

3. Write down your long term goals - where do you see yourself in three years, five years?

4. Write an action plan for your short term goals that can be revised every time a goal is completed.

5. Set priorities.

6. Use a to-do list. Write one for every day and cross off as accomplish tasks.

7. Make sure your goals are realistic.

8. Modify your environment. Eliminate noise distractions - shut the phone, cell phones, TV and radios off. Make sure you have plenty of light. Have necessary equipment on hand so you don't have to get up to get pens, pencils, books, etc. Don't get too comfortable when studying/working - don't study or work in bed. Study or work in a chair at a desk. Organize your area so next time you go to study or do work - your area is prepared.

8 time management tips to avoid procrastination

1. Sleep is very important. You should be getting 50-60 hours a week. If you become sleep deprived, you will not be able to concentrate.

2. Study time should be 1 hour of homework for every hour in class and possibly more during midterms, finals or projects. This can vary depending on faculty and class.
3. Normal amount of leisure time per week is 15-25 hours a week. So, make sure you put time in for social activities and hobbies. Schedule them in and make this time part of your weekly routine. Remember, socialization is a key factor for happiness.

4. Plan your schedule for the week in advance. Make a schedule on Sunday for the week. Have a to-do list for each day. Make sure you have your schedule and to do lists written down.

5. Do your most difficult work at your peak hours. What part of the day do you have the most energy? If it's afternoon, that is the time you should study, work out, etc. Your peak hours will be when you are most efficient and motivated plus you will have the most energy.

6. Eat right, drink plenty of water, and exercise. If you don't feel good physically then it will be hard to keep mentally active.

7. Do hard tasks in small blocks of time. Take breaks. Example: If studying for a midterm, plan on studying for 45 minutes then taking a 10-15 minute break and start the cycle again.

8. Study, review, work out, etc. in small groups. Having a partner will motivate you.

Meet Diane Lang

Pictured at the left, Diane Lang - Positive Living Expert and psychotherapist - is a nationally recognized author, educator, speaker, therapist and media expert. Lang offers expertise on a variety of health and wellness topics about creating balance and finding happiness through positive living.

In addition to holding multiple counseling positions, Diane is also an adjunct professor at Montclair State University. Lang has been interviewed for numerous magazine and newspaper articles and has been a frequent guest on radio and TV shows. Lang is the author of two books: "Baby Steps: The Path from Motherhood to Career" and "Creating Balance and Finding Happiness."