ptb-neladunato

3 Steps to Stop Procrastinating and Start Working on Your Dream Project

 

You know those projects you’ve been meaning to work on for a while, but it was never the right time?

I’m talking about the things no one else expects you to do, and maybe nobody cares if you do them (or so you think), but you really want to do it. Just not enough to, you know, get started right away.

We all know how it goes: you say to yourself you don’t have the time, you don’t have the money, you need to figure out every single detail before you even begin…

We make all sorts of excuses why we can’t do things right now.

Here’s something that I’ve personally found very helpful when dealing with procrastination.

 

Let’s do a little thought experiment

 

Imagine this thing you’re postponing will never happen. You’ll never get to it, because you’ll never have the perfect inspiration, perfect conditions, perfect skill… it will never be the “right time”.

Imagine that if you don’t do it today, you never will.

How does that feel?
Do you feel relieved or terrified?

If you feel relieved, you should probably give up on this project because it’s clear you don’t actually want to do it.
It’s perfectly fine to change your mind and realize you don’t want to do something that you once thought was important to you.

If you don’t feel so great about the possibility of your big dream project never happening, here’s an easy 3-step process to get back on track when you find yourself procrastinating.

 

1. Remember the alternative to not doing it today is not doing it at all

 When nobody is holding you accountable, you can keep postponing your tasks for “tomorrow” forever. We think we have an infinite number of “tomorrows” at our disposal so it doesn’t make a difference if we do it today, or put it off for that mythical “tomorrow” that never comes.

You might as well say you’ll never do it.

That sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

And I know this because I’m that kind of person too. I too have had passion projects that I kept postponing for weeks, months and even years.

In this moment you’re standing on a crossroads, where one road leads to achieving your goal, and the other one leads to never achieving it, because the timing will never be “right”.
Which road would you rather choose?

2. Think of your “Big Why”, and what you might get out of this

 If you want to do a good job and enjoy the project, your positive motivation has to come from the inside. You need to have a very compelling reason why you want to do this.

What made you want to pursue this project in the first place?
What do you want to create in the world?
Connect to this desire of yours and write it down so you can remember what it is when you’re having a difficult time working.

Also, it’s very likely that finishing this project might bring you some new opportunities that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
You can focus on personal growth, career advancement, or any other area in your life that could use some love.

What new things will you learn?
What new career or life opportunities might open up for you?
What will you prove to yourself?

And finally, what is the best-case scenario if everything turns out great?
Imagine this best-case scenario in your mind like a movie. Stay in this feeling for a few minutes, and then…

 

3. Pick the first step and start working on it immediately

What’s the first thing that needs to happen in order to move forward with this project?

Do it. Now.

Don’t think about the hundred steps that need to happen before you finally finish your project, that will overwhelm you. Focus on the first immediate step, and do it. Then focus on the second step and do that.

A step at a time is how you’ll make tremendous progress.

So, let me pose a little challenge for you: What’s one thing you wanted to do for a while but it was never the “right time”? What can you do today to make it happen?

Just pick one thing and do it!

Nela Dunato is an artist, designer and illustrator. She enjoys writing about creativity and motivation. You can see her work and read her blog at NelaDunato.com
Her mission is to help people to express themselves creatively and show their authentic self to the world, and she does it through her design work, creative workshops, ebooks and 1-on-1 work.  

41 Responses to 3 Steps to Stop Procrastinating and Start Working on Your Dream Project

  1. Matt Donnelly says:

    It’s true
    We already have the time, the skill, and the work ethic

    We just need to desire our whys more than ever and start this second

  2. Alok Banerjee says:

    Superb article! Perfect for procrastinators like me.. Focuses on the power of intent and motivation..thanks Nela!

  3. halkun says:

    One of the key I’ve read online is to also reward ourselves with something (ie: lunch break, coffee, walking around neighborhood, etc..) after finishing a task for the project.

    This allows ourselves to take some time off from the project. Like Matt’s mentioned, we have the time, skill and work ethic :)

  4. Nela Dunato says:

    Thank you Alok!
    I’ve found intent and inner motivation are crucial, and it’s hard to procrastinate when you know the cost of it :)

  5. Nela Dunato says:

    That’s absolutely true. Frequent breaks are not only good as rewards, but you need them to keep doing great work.

    I’ve read somewhere that working 4 hours a day with long breaks in between gives better results than sitting for 8 hours with one break.

  6. Nela Dunato says:

    Well said, Matt! :)

  7. Paula Lawes says:

    Yep yep yep! So true. The feeling afterwards when you’ve achieved something you set out to do is invaluable. The best thing I like to do is set my intentions in the day, write a list of things I want to achieve (making them VERY achievable) and then tick them off. Love love love that feeling! Thanks for this, always useful! :)

  8. Consu Tolosa says:

    Nela, thank you for articulating that ‘extra step’ of checking in with ourselves to make sure that the idea/project still has energy. Knowing that I can give myself permission to just let go of thoughts that are no longer capturing my imagination gives me a huge sense of relief and frees up joyful space to tackle those secret desires!

  9. GiniJack says:

    Great points Nelda. My only problem is I have so many projects waiting. I think I’m going to start writing in some me time on my calendar. That way i have a designated time to sew, bead or paint. I’ve been feeling the yearning…I just haven’t taken the time. Sometimes it’s hard to prioritize. ..I’ve been working so hard trying to establish my blog & my business I forget to play even though I realize I’ll be more productive if I do chisel out playtime. Thank you for reminding me there is no time like the present. I believe I shall sew today!

  10. Nela Dunato says:

    That’s awesome, Paula!
    I try to remember to do that too, it really makes a difference in how your day goes and checking off things can fuel you to become even more productive :)
    Thank you! :)

  11. Nela Dunato says:

    Consu, I’m so glad this idea helps you release the pressure and head on to things that you’re really passionate about!
    You absolutely have permission to let go of your past desires that no longer excite you.

  12. Nela Dunato says:

    It’s normal for a highly creative person to have many projects waiting :) Don’t worry about that.
    But I totally support scheduling “me time” and dedicating time to the creative work that will fuel you! Yay for sewing!

    Blog and business are important, but sometimes we forget why we started them in the first place – so they can support our creative work 😉

  13. didntwanna says:

    I only wish it were that easy. My project is larger than the complete emcompassment of my lifetime.

  14. LesyaLi says:

    We’ve all been there facing the list of things to do when we didn’t feel like doing any of them. At times it feels like you don’t even want to think about that bundle of tasks… Time is ticking, to-do-list becomes even longer and we still don’t feel like doing anything. But when we need results – we are never going to find them in the kingdom of stillness…

    Any accomplishment, any satisfaction derives from ACTION. There is no better feeling, than the feeling of accomplishment.

    Thank you for the reminder! I needed this today ;-] xo

  15. Maria Marry says:

    No no I am not agree with that because http://bit.ly/1tFDwSM

  16. Nela Dunato says:

    Does this largeness inspire you or intimidate you?
    If it doesn’t inspire you, then you really need to break it down into milestones or phases that you can actually complete in a reasonable time-frame.

    It doesn’t mean giving up on the entire thing, it just means helping your brain to side with you. Your brain needs something concrete to look forward to.

  17. Nela Dunato says:

    Thank you for your wonderful input, I love it! :)
    And I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!

  18. Vishal says:

    I always believe if our “WHY” is strong enough, “How” & “When” will take care of themselves

  19. Nela Dunato says:

    I agree with you. I’m big on beliefs as well, in fact I’m writing a blog article series about this very topic because I feel that’s the point we tend to trip up the most.

  20. GTDNext.com says:

    Great article and your ideas on breaking down the project down into steps fits very well in with how we think about GTD at http://GTDNext.com Looking forward to reading more.

  21. Nela Dunato says:

    I’m a huge fan of GTD and I’ve been using a GTD-based Android app for a few years now, so yeah it’s no wonder it ties in well 😉

  22. Matt Donnelly says:

    Thanks Nela :)

  23. The power of the why is always such an inspiration for me. Thanks!

  24. Erin says:

    Great tips! I’m definitely a procratinator for things that don’t get me $$ directly. lol

  25. Sriteja Reddy Wudaru says:

    Brilliant article, Nela.

    I sometimes realise that a brilliant idea or an attractive point that occurs in my mind now, I forgot that if I postpone without noting it. But at same time, you may get better ideas if you put your work aside for a while. But yes, one should not think letting one’s work sit aside and postponing are same.

    Brilliant read. Thanks for sharing.
    Take care.
    Sriteja Reddy.

  26. didntwanna says:

    Well, luckily for me.. It’s completely made up of an imaginative thought-form. Therefore, I can still enjoy it even if I never manifest it to share with the world. The epic of ultimate epics. Lol

  27. Beth says:

    Thanks, Nela. This exercise helped me figure out that I have some projects that I only *kinda, sorta* want to do. Sometimes it’s just as hard to let go of projects as it is to tackle them!

  28. RepOfFreedom says:

    Agree – and I find that just taking that first step makes all the difference. Almost every time I’m procrastinating, it’s never actually as “bad” as I imagine once I get going.

  29. Anna Long says:

    Very good points Nela and I love admitting to myself when something I “thought” was a priority actually no longer is. I have ALOT of interests, but realistically I can’t and don’t want to pursue them all. It’s such a relief to just admit that distinction sometimes.

  30. Nela Dunato says:

    Thanks, Anna! Discovering this for myself was very liberating. Those of us who keep finding new things to be excited about definitely need to review our desires every now and then.

  31. Nela Dunato says:

    Thank you, Maria! It’s wonderful that you’re using the power of Why to your advantage :) most people don’t even realize how important it is.

  32. Nela Dunato says:

    Thanks! Oh I totally get you.

    To me, when the project has potential to give results after a few months (cash or otherwise), I totally lose the willpower to do it because I have to work hard and wait for long. I prefer quick hussle and fast results.

  33. Nela Dunato says:

    Thank you!
    You’re absolutely right about noting that we may need a break, but need to be careful not to let that break get out of hand.

    I’m a big fan of taking breaks and just chilling and meditating, it helps me realize what I really want.

  34. Nela Dunato says:

    I’m so happy you got some clarity out of this exercise! Yeah letting go is very difficult, but once you realize you can dedicate all your energy and time to what you REALLY want, it’s worth it :)

  35. Nela Dunato says:

    So true, the initial resistance is the hardest (I heard the term “starting friction”) and after you get past that, things get easier!

  36. Halley Razz Gray says:

    So true! I sometimes walk away and never look back and my life is so much the better for leaving these projects behind. Guilt is expensive.

  37. Nela Dunato says:

    Awesome :) That’s powerful stuff, Halley!

  38. Aditya Mishra says:

    what I live about this little piece of message above is that it feels like the writer is talking directly to me. i am facing this inner conflict from a long time now and now i think i can move on. so thank you!

  39. Beauty Diva says:

    This is a well-written article, I enjoyed reading it. I am a super procrastinator, so I needed this today. :-)

    Thanks,
    Admin @ http://www.onlinebeautyplace.com

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  41. Nela Dunato says:

    Hey Aditya, I just saw your comment… thank you so much, I’m so happy to hear the message struck the right cord with you!
    I hope you have since found a way to resolve your inner conflict and move forward :)

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