I am a professional time-waster. If there were such a profession, I would have made many of those 30-under-30 lists a long time ago. I’m constantly procrastinating, the way only expert procrastinators can. I have so much time on my hands, often I wonder if the clock is not somehow running slow. Just as often, I plan to check its batteries, but then… stuff gets in the way. I’ll do it as soon as I refresh my Facebook feed. And tidy my desk. And look for that cable that I still haven’t found (I can’t remember what I needed it for, but I am sure it will come in handy one day). And take the measurements for the curtain in the nursery. For the fourth time. Although I don’t have any real intention of going to buy fabric any time soon. Oh, it’s time to pick up the kid from pre-school. I guess I’ll check the batteries tomorrow.
Did you see yourself in this paragraph? No?? Oh… yay for you! You can stop reading then. Read this instead.
The following tip is for those who, just like me, struggle with being focused on what needs to get done, who seem to not be able to start the necessary tasks, who are trying to find time (not seeing the forest for the trees here), who are having troubles becoming motivated enough to get the ball rolling, who have a natural talent for spending the same amount of time reciting all the cons of the project at hand, that would be required to get said project done.
After lots of research, some soul-searching and meditation exercises, and weekly checks paid to the order of my therapist, I was able to identify the one approach that will help to cure your procrastination:
1. Get off your ass and do what needs to be done.
Now, if this is too big of a concept for you to grasp (it definitely was for me), I will break it down in a few less challenging steps:
1.1. Eliminate time-sucking leeches and distractions from your routine. Do you really need to linger in bed for 15, 20, 30 more minutes after you woke up? No, you don’t really. Get up! Do you really need to refresh your Facebook feed every 10 minutes? How many of those Upworthy videos you watched today truly mattered? Stop complaining and looking for excuses why you shouldn’t do X, Y or Z now. The time you just spent whining about the horrific experience you’ll need to endure to get the work done could have been used to actually get the work done. Keeping in touch with friends is important – but how much of your phone conversation is real talk, and how much is just blabbering away? Put the phone down and get to work.
1.2. Just as I am breaking down this approach to ridding yourself of procrastination, you should break down your project into smaller tasks. Small, easily accomplishable tasks. Say you need to install your husband’s tie rack and hang his wrinkled ties. That sounds like a huge project, right? Well, look at it as a series of seven different projects: 1 – find the damned tie rack (it will be hard to stay focused as you will be exposed to a lot of tempting excuses to stop looking for the damned tie rack, but you will find the damned tie rack); 2 – identify the location where you’d install the tie rack (do not get distracted by the hangers that are facing the wrong way!); 3 – install batteries into the tie rack (no, just because you have the battery box in your hand, does not mean you need to replace the batteries in all the remote controls and computer mice); 4 – gather all the ties lying around the house (just the ties! leave the socks, shoes and random items hiding under the bed for tomorrow); 5 – iron the ties (if you love ironing as much as I do, this will be a crucial point in your journey, here you will have to prove all your might to stay committed to the path you are on and the success of this project); 6 – hang the ties; 7 – email your husband to brag about your accomplishment for the week.
1.3. Start your day with a to-do list and prioritize your items. Again, be gentle on yourself and break down all your projects into tiny, easily doable tasks. What works for me is to start with the easiest items, those that require the least effort and time, then move on to the bigger, more demanding tasks. That’s because I like to get rid of the noise so I can focus on what is important (BUT, this could also be a form of procrastination disguised in an erroneous prioritization of to-dos), and also I am more about the quantity than quality (I am more satisfied and pleased when I check off four little items off the list than one big to-do). You may be the type who likes to tackle the big elephant first, then moved down to the little guys on your to-do list. Find what works for you, then stick to it.
1.4. Last but not least, identify the time of the day when you are most productive. Obviously, if you are not a morning person, try to schedule your to-dos for later in the day. Decreased productivity because of a poorly aligned internal clock in addition to your established procrastination tendencies – a definite recipe for failure. That is not always doable (I’ve always been a night owl, however it’s been a long time since I was able to spend the night hours doing productive stuff), but strive to find a balance in your life that will support you in being the productive and efficient person you can be.
So… Unless you’re one of those people who finds satisfaction and joy in listening to the troubles of mildly dysfunctional people… since you read this post all the way to here, my guess is that, at one point or another in your life, you have struggled with procrastination, right? Do you have any tips that have helped you easily tackle what needs to be done? Please, share them in the comments.
Thanks for reading. Oh, if you were wondering, I am still at Phase I of the tie rack hanging project. I cannot find the damned thing!