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How To Stop Procrastinating

If you're like most working moms, you have a to-do list a mile long, and you put off most unappealing tasks for later. But is procrastination such a bad thing? Not necessarily, says Linda Dunlap, Ph.D., chair of the psychology department at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, NY. "It's actually a good coping strategy because it keeps us from having too much stress to deal with at one time." Of course, it's best as a temporary fix  -- if you procrastinate too often or for too long, it can ultimately cause more tension.

To curb the habit:

• Tune in to your energy levels. If you're a morning person, for instance, tackle the hardest tasks then and save the less difficult ones for your midafternoon slump.

• Break up large jobs into more manageable chunks.

• E-mail can be an excuse to ignore unpleasant projects, so try checking it just on the hour. Or schedule a time to return e-mails once a day.

• Alternate easy or fun tasks with the ones you're avoiding.