What your life would be like if you kept promises to yourself, did whatever you needed or wanted to do, set the goals and actually achieved them? What it would be like if you lost weight, ran that marathon, learned Chinese, became an artist or climbed the corporate ladder with awe-inspiring speed?
While most can agree that the majority of the things we want in life are perfectly achievable, not many can boast their accomplishments and accolades no matter how doable they seem. Procrastination often gets in the way of good intentions, and today we are going to look at some of the most effective ways to beat this natural disposition that holds us back from pursuing our dreams.
1. Just get started.
In my less productive past I used to think I had to follow all the way through to get something done. I thought that just by getting started I must be committing to a long day of work; doing otherwise would only prove that I am a lazy loser. Sure enough, this attitude didn’t help in terms of getting things done. From housekeeping to professional pursuits, I would postpone anything that could be possibly postponed.
In reality, all you need to do is to get started. In most cases, getting started is the hardest part because you have to break the gravity of your habitual momentum and force yourself to do something different. On the other hand, however, simply getting started is not much of a commitment and is easy to sign up to. Once you are on move, you build up a positive momentum that will carry you where you want to be.
2. Do your work in small manageable chunks.
Breaking the task in small steps and giving myself permission to take weeks or even months to complete them was life-changing for me. As you might have guessed, it never took that long. In fact, since I started to practice this approach, I accomplished in a few short months more than I did in the past few years combined.
Here is how it works:
- Figure out your attention span. This may be different for different tasks, depending on how much you enjoy or hate doing them. How long will it take for you to get really bored? For tasks I dislike I set it very short, not more than ten minutes. You may be more or less patient than me, so feel free to choose a period of time that feels right.
- Commit to work on your task for this amount of time only.
- Rinse and repeat until the task is done.
What usually happens is that once you get started, you realize that the task is not that bad after all and will often work longer than planned. Worst case scenario? You will get it done in several steps without feeling drained and bored. Even if it takes a few weeks to accomplish, your results will be better than if you never got started at all.
3. Get to the core of your problem.
There are two types of procrastination with one being the result of simple laziness and another being due to the lack of actual process in place where we are unsure of what has to be done to achieve the results we want. The steps above will help you deal with the first type, but for the second type you will need to read, research and test things before you can work out a proven process that works. Once you figure that out, little motivation is needed — your confidence in the process will carry you on its own.
What is your way of dealing with procrastination? Do you have a personal secret sauce to getting things done? Share it in comments