Do you suffer from procrastination? Do you put things off? Do you start but then get stuck? Is procrastination holding you back from achieving what you want? Try these tried and tested procrastination killers for tackling a debilitating problem that many people suffer from.
1 Just start Just do something. No matter how small or insignificant. Take that first step. Just start. Once you have started, you have momentum. It is like Newton’s first law of motion: a body at rest remains at rest and a body in motion remains in motion. You have to overcome that inertia – and that means taking action.
2 Move from plan to do Some projects have an initial planning or research stage, followed by an operational, implementation phase. The challenge can be knowing when you have enough information, and that it’s time to move from planning to doing. Set clear, objective criteria for deciding when to transition, or you may find yourself forever saying, ‘there’s just one more thing we need to know.’
3 Don’t wait for inspiration Procrastinators sometimes fail to start because they’re waiting for inspiration to strike. This is a bad, bad, strategy. You may have heard the saying, ‘Success is 90% perspiration, 10% inspiration’. So roll up your sleeve and get stuck in. When the sweat starts to flow, so will your productivity.
4 One chunk/slice at a time
There’s an old joke:
Q How do you eat an elephant? A One bite at a time
This is a useful metaphor when it comes to tackling big tasks. Because you can’t eat your ‘elephant’ in a single bite, you may not even try. The idea seems overwhelming. But when you break it down into a series of bite-sized chunks, it seems more achievable.
5 Challenge yourself
Many people are motivated by challenge, so one way of getting yourself going is to set yourself a target. You might say to yourself, ‘I’ll try to complete this by lunchtime’ – and be more focused as a result.
6 Push-on for a few minutes more Procrastinating behaviour sometimes kicks in when you’re part way through. Maybe you’ve been working away happily for a while, and then you suddenly lose interest, simply get bored, or something else seems to attract your attention. At this point, when you feel like giving up, push on for a few minutes more. This helps build your ‘stamina’, and ability to stay focused.
7 Deal assertively with your ‘pop-ups’ Many people set out to tackle a task with good intentions, but then distracting thoughts come into their mind – like pop-ups when you are surfing the web. These ‘siren voices’ tempt them into doing something different from what they should be focusing on. Some individuals suffer a steady stream of such distractions which they find hard to ignore. But ignore them you must. You have to be as assertive in dealing with your own requests and say ‘no’, or ‘not now’, as you would with someone else.
8 Look ahead to motivate yourself….. One technique many people find effective is to think how fantastic it will be once they’ve finished the task or moved it forward. By focusing on the outcome, and benefit, rather than the grind of doing it, you increase your motivation.
9 …..and consider the consequences of not doing it Some people, though, are motivated more by the negative consequences of not doing something. In NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) this is known as an ‘away from’ motivation. If that’s you – and many procrastinators are motivated by deadlines – put some scary movies in your mind of what could happen if you don’t get it done.
10 Tell the world Something else that can be effective is to publicly announce you’re planning to do something: run a marathon, re-think the cash-flow system, learn Italian or whatever. Once you ‘put it out there’ – especially if you specify a date – you greatly increase the chances of follow through. And when you start to procrastinate, you feel the pull of that public accountability.