“I think if I wrapped up some of the other tasks on my to-do list I would be able to create a nice mental clearing to sit down and write…”
“Maybe I should do some research and read what other people have written about procrastination to get my creative juices flowing….”
“It’s been a long day. Maybe if I spend a little time on Pinterest I’ll relax and take a mental break and then I’ll be ready to jump into my blog….”
While I can certainly justify doing any of those (I’m really good at justification) the plain and simple truth is that all of these thoughts are excuses to avoid doing what I know I need to do. I am procrastinating. At one time or another we’re all victims of procrastination – the mental games that we play to convince ourselves we are being more productive by not doing what we know we need to do. When you say it like that, it just seems kind of ridiculous.
So what do we do about it? Since I have found myself in this position more than a few times, I’ll share with you some of my thoughts on dealing with procrastination.
- Making a mountain out of a molehill…
Have you ever noticed that once you put a task off – whether it’s filling up the gas tank, paying a bill or doing a report at work – the size of the task grows in your mind? Keep putting it off or making excuses and pretty soon you are carrying this crazy, draining mental weight that you could have taken care of in a fraction of the time you have been stressing about it.
Try picturing or writing down the sub-tasks that are involved in accomplishing said overwhelming project and break it down into smaller, doable tasks. If you mentally change one big task into a series of smaller sub-tasks it becomes much easier to tackle.
2. Let’s be realistic ….
When I have something to do that will require what I expect to be a significant amount of time I tell myself that the best way to approach it is to get all of my other little, piddly tasks done and then I’ll find myself with a nice big stretch of uninterrupted time. Let me tell you – in the past 11 years since I’ve had kids – that has never, ever, ever happened. However for some reason I keep expecting it to.
I’ve got to accept that although this may be my ideal way to get things done, it is not a realistic way. I would be much better off setting a timer for 20 minutes and knocking out what I can each day, rather than not doing anything at all. Although, I suspect that once I get those 20 minutes in I may be on a roll and will continue on past the buzz of the timer….
3. Just do it….
Standing on the edge of the pool, looking at the freezing water and trying to decide the best way to get in is a form of self-torture. So is spending countless hours thinking about something you have to do but not starting it.
You don’t have to adopt the philosophy of “Go Big or Go Home” (although feel free to knock yourself out if that appeals to you!) … just take one step at a time. Taking any kind of action on a task that you are procrastinating on is a step forward. Adopt the “Don’t break the chain” approach that Jerry Seinfeld uses … http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret
Enough of these little steps will build momentum and before you know it you will be swimming in the water and realize it really isn’t as cold as you thought it would be.
What are your tips and tricks for dealing with procrastination – we always love to hear from you!