I put off writing this…
I was going to write this last week, really. But then I saw a great documentary being promoted on Netflix, so I watched it. I still wasn’t motivated to start writing this article, leading me to binge-watching a series that took a few days. There was some great-looking food in that series, so I looked up a recipe and decided to try making it. Twice, because I love cooking. Frustrated, I decided to take my mind off things by scrolling through social media, which led to reading some interesting articles on other websites. Rinse. Repeat.
Putting off doing something usually involves filling that time with something that makes us feel good. Until it doesn’t. Then we feel guilt, shame, and laziness. We’re in the procrastination cycle.
Starting something is by far the most difficult part. But once we start, we often begin to realize the task at hand wasn’t as bad as we thought. Progress is made, and we begin to feel good about ourselves, thus breaking the procrastination cycle.
Here are a few quick strategies for starting something:
Make it easy in advance.
Do you find it difficult to get motivated to work out in the morning before heading to the office? Lay out your gym clothes the night before, have your water bottle full in the fridge, pack your gym bag, and set it by the door with your keys. Or how about packing the kids’ lunch(es) the night before instead of in the morning when you’re already rushed to get your day going? Set your coffee machine’s timer to have your favorite java ready shortly after waking up.
Don’t think a lot about it.
Try Mel Robbins’ method and count down 5-4-3-2-1, then make like Nike and Just Do It! The more you think about it, the more you won’t want to start.
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Break it down.
Try breaking up your task into smaller pieces and just do one of them. Need to write a report for work? Try writing just the outline for right now. Getting the main points down in writing makes it much easier to then go about finishing the report in bite-sized chunks instead of all at once in chronological order. To use a quick analogy: Don’t set out to summit the peak of the mountain, take some time to get the scenic view and plan your path first.
Making it short is soooo sweet.
Work in smaller bursts of time with breaks in between. The Pomodoro Technique is great for this, working 20-25 minutes and then taking a 10-minute break. In some respect, it’s less efficient this way, but more often than not, you catch a wave of motivation and just keep going. If not, that’s ok because you only planned on working on it for 20 minutes anyway.
Life is stressful and procrastination feels good initially. After all, we deserve to feel good, right? But long term, it’s much worse because there’s that worry in the back of your mind, causing stress and anxiety that eventually prevents us from feeling good, to begin with.
Starting something NOW, like writing this article, allows us to binge-watch that Netflix series guilt-free!