We all do it. Put off those things we don’t want to do, but deep down inside know we should. It’s easy to understand why we procrastinate, other things can be more fun. But the price we pay is that we are never free from that inner voice that says “Hey, you better get that done!”.
Here’s our Take Five on how to stop procrastinating:
Keep Your Eyes On The Prize: Sometimes you procrastinate because you just don’t want to do something. Assuming you have done a pros and cons list and decide this is something that needs to be done, the best way to get started and keep moving forward is to keep your reasons top of mind. For example, let’s say you want to become a better presenter and there’s a series of workshops that you know would help. You’ve been putting it off because you’re focusing on all the things that make it a chore: you’ll have to drive out of your way; they’ll be work involved; you’d rather be watching CSI or doing something else that’s more fun. Focus on the reasons why you thought you should do it in the first place. Being a better presenter will give you more of the types of opportunities that are important to you. By keeping that thought in your head, it will make it easier for you to move forward.
Break It Into Bite-Sized Pieces: Many people procrastinate because they see the project in its totality and believe it will take too long. A better approach to take is to break down your goal into manageable action items. Paraphrasing David Allen in “Getting Things Done”, you can’t do a project, you can only do the next action. By developing an action plan, it will keep you focused on what the next step is and make completing your project seem more doable.
Shoot For Good, Not Perfect: Sometimes we set the standards unreasonably high, which prevents us from even wanting to start. The pressure we put on ourselves can result in doing nothing. Balance your desire for perfection with the need to get things done. Does it really have to be perfect to create value?
Do It In spite Of Your Mood: Don’t wait until you are “in the mood” to work on your project. The mood may never come. Sometimes working on it will help create the right energy and feed your desire to continue. Even if you are not in the best mood, any effort you make on your project will still result in progress. As long as you keep working on it, it will get done.
Overcome Distractions: Let people know in advance that you are not available during the time you’re working on your project. Turn off your cell phone, don’t answer emails and don’t go surfing on Youtube. When you are doing something that you’ve been putting off, it’s especially easy to get distracted. Remove all those distractions that will take you off point.
You might have heard of the “termite revolution”. Just like the biggest building that will topple as a result of termites eating away, so will any project no matter the size. You know what it feels like to live with the burden of procrastination. See for yourself how good it feels on the other side.
Copyright 2008 Whelan Stone. All rights reserved.