By Rebecca Chandler
We all procrastinate from time to time. We start a project and then get distracted by an email, a social media post, or an off-topic conversation. It happens. You may be doing it now.
Most of the time, we put off things because they seem overwhelming. Solving a complex problem at work. Preparing a home to go on the market. Writing a blog post on procrastination. ;-) But these tasks are often a piece of a bigger goal and by putting them off, we delay accomplishing the larger objective. Here are some strategies that may help you tackle procrastination and advance your goals.
- Make an audacious, big, big goal that will inspire you. For example, someone who wants to sell their home may have to paint, clean out closets, make minor repairs, and stage their home for showings. None of these sound particularly enjoyable. However, if the big, audacious goal is to move into a beautiful new home, embrace a simpler lifestyle, or relocate to a new exciting area, keeping that big goal in mind will make painting and cleaning out clutter more tolerable. Each paint stroke or organized closet is a step toward that bigger goal.
- Break the work into smaller, easily completed steps. Write them down. Sometimes the reason we procrastinate is because the tasks ahead of us seem overwhelming. “There is so much to do to prepare my home for sale, I don’t know where to start.” Start by making a list of the tasks to be completed, and then break those tasks down even further.
Cleaning out all closets, drawers and storage areas – (a big task)
- Get boxes for carting donations to charity.
- Get trash bags for garbage.
- Create a staging area where to pile donations.
- Take one room at a time. Complete one before moving on to the next.
- Drop off donations on way to other errands.
- Call waste management vendor and schedule a special pickup for larger items.
By breaking a larger task down into smaller ones, they don’t seem so overwhelming. Picking up boxes and trash bags are steps that can be accomplished in a few minutes, not hours. Clearing some floor space in the garage to pile the donations will not take all day. Start with one room (or one closet or drawer). You can make major progress in a short amount of time.
- Allocate time for work and time for play. Mark Twain said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day,” suggesting you face the most unpleasant tasks first. Do you really want to eat a live frog for breakfast? I don’t. I’m not a morning person and no amount of coffee is going to make me productive at 6 a.m. But, you probably know the time of day in which you are most productive. Block out time on your calendar, uninterrupted, to devote to your “live frog.” Treat it like an important meeting and don’t reschedule it. Michael McDevitt, Cofounder and CEO of Tandem Legal Group, wrote in his article, “For Entrepreneurial Success, Eat A Live Frog Every Morning”, that he devotes 2 hours per day to tackling his unpleasant to-do list (although not first thing in the morning). During those 2 hours, everything else can wait.
Conversely, block out time in which you are not going to work. Saturday afternoon, watch the football game with friends. Tuesday, have lunch with a friend. Giving yourself a break, without guilt, will give you a boost of motivation during your productive times.
- Set deadlines. Realistic deadlines. If you know that you have nine closets, then cleaning out one per day during the week and four on the weekend will allow you to accomplish your goal in a week. Split the work between two people and the time required is cut in half. Seeing the end in sight makes the work less daunting.
- Check things off the list and reward your accomplishments. Finish cleaning out a closet? Relax in a hot bath with a book or go for a walk in the park. Finish cleaning out all your closets? Go to a movie you’ve wanted to see. Ending an unpleasant task with a pleasant one will keep you motivated.
In conclusion, don’t delay! Try these steps today!