How To Spark Your Productivity
PART 3: How To Beat Procrastination
Procrastination is a hard-to-beat mental block. The more we procrastinate, the more likely we are to develop an unconscious habit of not doing what we should be doing, often at all costs. Time becomes an enemy.
To be honest, I am a last-minute get-the-job-done person. I tend to procrastinate waiting, for an ideal time to come or for something exciting to push me. But usually nothing happens and I have to push myself at the last minute. In fact, having plenty of time bores me.
The idea of “the last minute” excites me. It pumps up my adrenaline and thrills me. That’s when I do my best. Not a single minute is wasted in that mindset. I get right into my work and get it done. Like a guerrilla, conquering the enemy headquarters rapidly, with minimum ammunition spent.
The last minute is an irrevocable wall of a deadline. We can no longer wait for the ideal time that never came, so we start moving, unpleasantly, out of the fear of hitting the wall. The downside is that work quality can suffer and anxiety rises.
Here are 12 strategies that I’ve learned to beat procrastination and create urgency before the last minute arrives:
Stop waiting for the ideal time — it will never come. Do not wait for intangible inspiration to start your task. Get started on the easiest part and the inspiration may come along the way.
Act on an idea when it occurs. The farther you get from the initial emotional spark, the less likely you are to follow through. To set an idea in motion:
- phone or email someone about it
- blog about it
- make an action plan
- make an outline
- talk to someone about it
- list key ideas
- budget it
- enlist assistance
- delegate it
Boost your energy. Go for a walk or jog when your energy is waning. It will enliven your body and your mind.
If a task is overwhelming in size, even when broken down into smaller goals, commit to spend a specific period on it – say an hour per day or two days each week.
Write down the exact steps necessary to accomplish an undesirable task so you aren’t tempted to get sidetracked.
If you’re having trouble getting started, make an irrevocable commitment. For example, you keep meaning to clean out your garage and have a tag sale, but never seem to get around to it. Get motivated by placing an ad for your tag sale. Now you have both a deadline and motivation to get started.
If you aren’t blessed with self-discipline, pretend you are. Identify the real cause behind your procrastination and attack it head-on. The job will get done in the process. You can remove four common excuses for procrastination if you:
- have the tools you need to get the job done
- know where they are
- have enough of them
- and keep them in working order
Do the task that you are in the proper frame of mind to do – social, analytical, creative, routine, etc.
When there is something you absolutely have to do, but hate doing, get your frustration out in the open. Whine, gripe, complain and protest. Then use all of that energy you worked up to get the job done.
Beat procrastination by setting up guilt-free time to “goof off” as a reward for successfully finishing a task you usually avoid. Be your own cheerleader. When you finish a tough task, get excited, jump up and down, give yourself a high five, sing a song. You may feel silly but you will definitely not feel tired, frustrated, anxious or stressed.
Give yourself a comfortable amount of time to finish a task and promise yourself a break if you finish early. Example: If you can easily finish your report in an hour, by fully concentrating you can finish in forty minutes and take a twenty minute break.
- Most of all, turn your mindset around. Don’t let a deadline beat you. Make a new habit. Just as procrastination has taken root in your mind, a new mindset can reverse your habit of doing everything at the last minute. Take a small first step by doing what you can do now. Then take one more and one more, no matter how small. Like dripping waterdrops that penetrate a stone, your incremental work will chip away at the huge project in front of you. Time becomes your ally, instead of your enemy.
This article is adapted from the book, 1001 Ways to Motivate Yourself & Others.
To be continued in PART 4…