Let’s talk about procrastination.
Whether it be waiting until the last minute to start on a big school project, not getting around to household chores until 15 minutes before guests arrive or dialing their sister to say happy birthday at 11:59 PM on her birthday…everyone procrastinates at some point in their lives. Heck, I procrastinated writing this post about procrastination…and you may be procrastinating by reading this.
Procrastination feels a lot like a night spent drinking with friends…you forget your worries in the moment but are left with a pretty nasty hangover when the shades lift from over your eyes. When we procrastinate we tend to think that we are doing ourselves a favor, but really we are just causing ourselves even more stress than if we were to get it done and over with. We know this, yet we do it anyway.
With that in mind, I decided to come up with a quick and easy, go-to guide for when I find myself feeling like I have to do everything and am enticed to take a leisurely stroll down the road to doing nothing…or the laundry, or clipping my toenails or something.
I’ve narrowed down the process of beating procrastination and getting sh…stuff done into 7 simple steps, and so far they’ve worked every time.
I’m writing this post now, aren’t I?
1. Pick ONE Thing
The first step is to pick one and ONLY one thing to do. This helps tremendously in reducing the sense of overwhelm that leads us to finishing nothing but a Netflix marathon, and prevents the whole start-a-little-bit-of-everything-and-finish-nothing phenomenon that leaves us feeling tired but unaccomplished. I would suggest that this one thing be the most important and also the most urgent. Having trouble deciding what that is? Here’s a hint- it’s probably the thing you feel the most resistance towards starting.
2. Remember WHY It’s Important
Step two is to remind yourself of why this task is the most important. Inspire yourself with thoughts of what it will mean to have it done, and of how you will feel knowing that it’s finished and no longer hanging over your head like a dark heavy cloud.
3. Pick a Time and Place To Get it Done
Ambiguous to-do lists are a thing of the past. Pick a time and place to get your task done. Block out the time, write it down, schedule it into you day or put it on your calendar and commit! The quickest way to build self-confidence is to keep the promises you make to yourself.
4. Break It Down
The fourth step is to create more steps. I know, I know...this seems counter-intuitive, but hear me out. Breaking a big daunting task into very small, very simple baby tasks makes everything seem a lot more doable. How did J.K Rowling write the Harry Potter Series? One book, one chapter, one paragraph, one sentence, one word, one pencil stroke at a time.
5. Set a Timer
Allotting a specific amount of time for uninterrupted productivity is important, especially if you’re like me and tend to make writing a two page paper into an all-day event. Look back at your list of baby steps and determine an amount of time in which you feel you could comfortably complete the first one (or few) of your baby steps.
Okay, now take away the “comfortably” part and reduce that time. Create a slight sense of urgency. You want there to be enough pressure to keep you moving forward efficiently, but not so much that you panic. Once you’ve done this you’ll want to set another (shorter) timer for breaks. I would suggest keeping them to 15 minutes or less so that you don’t end up jumping your progress ship.
6. Make it Fun and Get it Done
Alright, now it’s time to take action. Put away all distractions, focus in on your first baby step and ask yourself, “How can I make this a little bit more fun?” A few ideas include turning on some tunes, incorporating some dance moves or creating a who-can-get-more-done contest with a friend. Once you’ve got your answer for how to make it more fun, press start on your timer and get going! When the timer goes off take a break, and keep repeating the cycle until all your baby steps have been completed.
This last part may seem extraneous, but it is very important. Yes, the feelings of accomplishment and having a weight freed from your shoulders are rewarding in themselves, but they’re just a by-product of the process. You deserve to celebrate! Bask in the glory of your success and do something that makes your soul happy. Maybe it’s treating yourself to a tasty snack, going on a nice walk, taking a bubble bath or binge-watching cat videos on YouTube….whatever it is, make sure it leaves you feeling even better than when you began!
Well, there you go!
7 Simple Steps to Stop Procrastinating
Following this guide has made a huge difference in my own productivity levels just in the past week. Breaking things down and adding some fun has made it a whole lot easier to focus on, as Marie Forleo would say,
“Progress. Not Perfection.”
As always, I would love to hear how these steps work for you. Let me know in the comments below what it was that you accomplished and how you chose to celebrate.
Afraid your procrastination buddy might get lonely?
Why not get them in on it, too?
Share this post with anyone who you think could benefit from getting some shit done.
Now… STOP PROCRASTINATING and get to work!
Do you have an idea in your mind, or a dream in your heart that's getting harder and harder to ignore?
Are you settling for what you can get because you're afraid you might fail, or not be taken seriously if you were to go after what you really want?
Is your idea of success different than what everyone else thinks it should be?
If you're ready to listen to that little voice inside and want to begin working to find the clarity, courage and confidence to create your own happiness and success, then please
"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire." - Jennifer Lee