Procrastination is a plague that affects many people, but with certain tricks you can find it occurring less and less or possibly never again. There are thousands of articles and books about how a person can stop procrastinating. Which actually frightens me in thinking that if a person is a truly stubborn procrastinator, they could easily find the actual time they should be using to work spent on reading all the ways to get focused and start working. The reality is that a person only needs to find the way that works for them and sometimes that way may be the opposite of what we would think. The point is that there is a way that will work for you. You may just need to try a few to figure it out.
Make the list. You know the one I’m talking about; the “to do” list. Something we have all heard before, but don’t always realize we are not doing right. Maria Bogdanos explained it in one simple phrase, “Do it, delay it or delete it.” With the basic idea that anything on our “to-do” lists can be put into one of three basic columns, she explained that people only go half way in accomplishing the purpose of the “to do” list. In my experience I find them almost depressing in that once you finally look at the list it seems exhausting to think of all that needs to get done. But with the simple technique of taking each task and doing it, scheduling it or deleting it, you can find structure forming in the whirlwind of thoughts causing your delay. Look at your list and define what you no longer care about and scratch it off. Then figure out which items need more preparation, whether it be planning or scheduling, and realizing you can’t accomplish them at that moment so they can be put aside or on list “B” if you would like. With all that out of the way you can see the list of, not only, what matters, but what you can do right then. If the idea of long lists still scares you, try thinking there is only two things on the list, what I’m doing now and what I’m doing next.
Do it or do nothing. Procrastination often comes out of finding everything else that can be done at the time you are trying to avoid what you should be doing. Unfortunately, your attempts are futile. Remember that “What is deferred is not avoided.” – Thomas More Even if you filled your day from top to bottom with other things you still have to face what needs to be done. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be proud of what you’ve accomplished, but remember trying every key on the chain doesn’t mean the door is unlocked. The idea of “nothing” is often suggested for those struggling with the task they simply cannot get focused in doing. Mentioned by Gretchan Rubin in an article for the Huffington Post, the tip of “do nothing” is a trick she herself utilizes in her daily life. The concept of scheduling a time to do a task and, whether you do it or not, not allowing yourself to do anything but. Meaning if you have homework, or taxes to fill out, whatever it may be; you simply sit there with it in front of you and either work on it for the set amount of time or sit and do nothing. It sounds a bit odd at first, but with the offer of escaping from boredom, by doing your set task, you give yourself the interest in starting. That feeling of “if there is nothing else to do”, oftentimes, is all we need to push forward and begin something great.
Get started with just two minutes. Sounds like an advertisement for a health club or starting a business, but it is actually the concept, developed by James Clear, that two minutes can jump start your life. Contrary to some of the other advice people havegiven, James feels that if you have a list there is one basic question. Can I accomplish this in two minutes? If the answer is “yes” than just get it over with now. Basically, the idea is that too much time is wasted thinking and talking about doing things that just need to get done. Putting in the laundry, taking out the garbage or changing the batteries in the smoke detector are all things people spend too much time on. Give yourself two minutes, get it done and feel good scratching it off the list. At that point the list will be down to those few things that will take a little more effort. Even here, James suggests putting the “two minute” idea into action. The idea behind this is that if you start something for two minutes you will most likely stick with it until it’s accomplished. Whether folding laundry or starting that paper you need to write, the beginning is often the most difficult hurdle.
As long as we find a way to manage our time, face that fear, and allow ourselves to succeed; we will be able to overcome procrastination.
“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.”-- Anne Frank
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