Best Of Series: This is a repost of one of my most popular blog posts.
Irony: As I started to write this article, I thought, “I’ll just go check my Facebook messages first.”
I caught myself in the act and opened a Word doc instead.
People who say that procrastination is about laziness are probably the same people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough.
Procrastination isn’t about laziness. It’s about fear. It’s about perfectionism. It’s about overwhelm. We all experience these things!
The good news is that there are ways to get moving again.
Here are 9 of my favorite tricks to help even the worst procrastinator break the habit:
1 – When you get an 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. My guess is that 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 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 – Agree to 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 creating my new product.” 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.”
Most procrastinators 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.
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. Wow – what a difference this makes!
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.
“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 thing you’re supposed to be doing.
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. 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 check my Facebook messages! How about that?