How to Complete those Projects that Never Get Done

improve your productivityQuick moment of irony: As I began writing this article, I thought, “I’ll do a quick check on Facebook first.”

I stopped. Then I marched myself over to this document.

If you keep NOT getting things done, it’s not because you are lazy.  It’s probably because you are scared. Or you’re a perfectionist. Or you’re overwhelmed. No big deal. It happens to everyone.

Here are 9 of my favorite tricks to stop procrastinating and get your projects done already…

1 – When you get a business idea, do some little thing to begin.

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I noticed something.  I noticed that when Stephen King gets an idea, he writes it.  Immediately and imperfectly.

Most people get an idea.

Then they sit there.

They wonder if it’s a good idea.

Then, they wonder if it’s a good idea some more.

Got an idea? Begin it now!

2 – All hail small chunks of time!

Lots of us complain about having no time.

The truth is we all have lots of time. It just doesn’t happen to be all at once.

Are you waiting for many hours of spare time to begin your business idea, your project, or your taxes?   Stop waiting!  Learn to use the spare half hour that comes up here and there. (I gave myself 45 minutes to write this article just to take my own advice.)

3 – Do it badly.

Set a goal to do it badly. Set a goal to show up.  Let go of doing it ALL, or doing it WELL.

Some of my coaching clients’ biggest victories have a lot more to do with getting over perfectionism and fear, than they do about getting it all done perfectly.

4 – Commit aloud.

Call a friend and say something like this: “I’m going to spend the next hour working on this project.” Then go do it.

Call the friend after the half hour and make her congratulate you. Repeat daily.

5 – Define quantities.

Nebulous goals make for nebulous results.

“I’m gonna get my office organized” is a lot like saying, “We oughtta do something about Global Warming.”

Many of us have a hard time defining quantities. We think everything needs to be done NOW.

When are you going to do it? For how long? Which part of your office? The file cabinet? Or your desk?

Define the goal and acknowledge its completion.

6 – Install this System Upgrade into your Mental Hard Drive: Less is More.

Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.

Why?

Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.

Find out what it feels like to accomplish one thing instead of not quite getting to everything.

7 – Do it first.

My very first coach made me write first thing in the morning. He told me to schedule the 2-hour chunk as my first activity upon waking.

Why?

“Because you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority.”

Action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this project you keep putting off.

8 – Avoid “nose-bleed” activities.

Email, voicemail, web stats – any activity that bleeds itself into your whole day becomes a non-activity.  It becomes a nose-bleed.

When you do it all the time, you never complete it. You just let it slowly drain the very life force from you.  Define times for these activities. Then, turn off your email, your cell phone, your web stats, until that time comes.

9 – Don’t ask how you “feel” about doing the activity.

Have you ever committed to getting fit? And then when the alarm goes off, you lie in bed thinking, “Do I really feel like going to the gym?” (Like you even have to ask!)

Change this pattern.  A habit is something you set up in advance from a place of intention. Make your decision the night before. Commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, the blank canvas. Don’t have coffee and sigh and think, “I’ll probably feel more like it at lunch time.” You won’t!

If it’s a priority, don’t waste time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out.

———————————

There. I did it.

I wrote this article.

And now I don’t even want to go to Facebook! How about that?

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for these great tips, Christine! I find that setting an intention of what I want to work on, then setting a timer in 30 minute chunks helps a lot. I have an app called 30/30 and I set it for 25 minutes of work + 5 minute break. This repeats for as long as I want to. It’s been extremely helpful in keeping me productive.

  2. says

    This is great Christine! One of the things I’ve started doing is making a list of the loose ends I have that would take 5-10 minutes to complete (and making it very visible). Then, when I go into my “I don’t have enough time to do XYZ” mode, I can look at the list and pick something to get done…instead of killing that time on Facebook :)

  3. says

    Less is more! Define quantities! Tell the Universe my priorities! Yes, all these things! I often find myself making my to-do lists, and then getting many other things done instead, because they feel “more important.” Any maybe they were…..so why didn’t I make THAT my list?? I let so much of the “Uggggg I don’t wanna” steer the ship that by the time I do the 10 minute (or five minute….or TWO minute!) task I feel pretty ridiculous for all the energy I wasted avoiding it.

  4. Julie Ray says

    I love that you included doing taxes in this article, because that ones drains an unbelievable amount of energy from me every single year! I won’t let myself do untold numbers of other things “until I get my taxes done” … that thinking starts early in the year and some years it continues until the final October 15th deadline. How sad is that?! So thank you for acknowledging that for me. That and facebook … the ever-present other drain … So glad to know I’m not alone :)

  5. says

    Wow, Christine, I feel like you were in my office with me last night. I was looking at ALL of my article drafts and was wondering the best way to reduce that pile. I’m going to pitch one story at a time to different publications to fulfill by dreams of being a freelance writer for publications.

    Also, I’ve learned that it’s okay to do things badly because that’s one of the best ways to learn.

  6. says

    Such awesome tips here! #9 is a real kicker for me. I’m definitely working on doing stuff that I really don’t feel like doing. From now on, I won’t even consult with myself. I’ll just do it already! ;-)

    Finally got my newsletter sign-up in place last week! WOOHOO! It’s been years since I’ve done Uplevel Your Business and I am only now getting started with this form of marketing. Boy, was it a pain in my butt and it took me practically all day to figure everything out and get it set-up, but I committed to doing it imperfectly and I got the job DONE!

    WW

  7. says

    I love the way you write! :)

    This article validated a lot of things for me. I often wondered why I couldn’t get anything done. I was “just this close” to telling myself I’d become a lazy, mid-life/old person with nothing left but daily aches and pains to look forward to. Uh…nope! Not me! Now I am VERY stingy with how I spend my time each day. If I have chunks of time during the day in between all of the other stuff I have to do then I have a pre-determined list of tasks that I can do. I’m not wasting anymore time.

    I have a retirement to plan for!

  8. Dan says

    If you’d like a tool for managing your time and projects, you can use this web-application inspired by David Allen’s GTD:

    GTD Agenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  9. says

    You have a new follower on Twitter (me :-) and I tweeted this list. All great ideas, but my favorites are using a timer (I do as much as possible in 45 minute chunks) and giving up deciding how I “feel” about doing something – just do it!

  10. Tammy Hart Dyer says

    So glad I finally got to this article. I’ve been asking the universe to send me ideas on how to better encourage some of my peeps who are stuck. The “stuck” was starting to get me frustrated.

    Plus, it’s ALWAYS good as a mirror for myself!

    Thanks CK

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