Perhaps no single human behavior is as universal as procrastination. Even the most productive among us occasionally fall prey to its grip. And there are few things that rob us of more joy, productivity, freedom and achievement than procrastination. My purpose today is not to discuss all the reasons we procrastinate, but to offer some simple but powerful techniques for breaking its hold on us. Perhaps as you read this, you're procrastinating on writing a report, exercising, starting a project or cleaning off your desk. So, read on, and apply any or all of the steps listed below, and start making things happen.
1) Ask yourself which project, task or result will have the greatest payoff for you if you act on it now. Once you've decided on a focus, go to step 2.
2) Ask yourself what you could produce or complete in the next 5 minutes toward that project. Usually it's a matter of taking one or two small steps that breaks the deadlock of procrastination.
3) Once you've identified those small steps, pick one and do it. Then do the next.
4) Stay focused on the results you're aiming for. Most of us get derailed because we smother ourselves in the minute, forgetting to look up at the goal we were after in the first place. Especially if it's a big project, keeping that vision in mind can be very motivating.
5) Keep a list of easy-to-do projects that will produce a quick, visible result. Sometimes we simply need the satisfaction of a small win to fuel us toward greater achievement.
6) Remember times when you broke through procrastination and even beat a deadline? A coaching client of mine recently completed two huge projects in a matter of days. Now when she gets mired in “I don't know if I can do this, " thinking, I remind her of her recent accomplishment, and it sparks her motivation.
7) Stop worrying about whether you “feel" like it. As Shakespeare said, “our doubts are traitors. " Instead go back to steps 1 and 2 to decide what is most important, then act on it.
8) Celebrate your successes along the way. Did you complete a project this morning that you had to get done? Give yourself a small reward. The old saying “nothing succeeds like success" applies here. But usually we get so busy on the next task or project that we don't stop to savor the satisfaction of our accomplishments.
9) Create a guideline to remind you. In the Best Year Yet program we create guidelines-standards of behavior-to guide us through the year ahead. A guideline that repeatedly shows up on my BYY plans is “Act on it now. "
10) Do something counter-intuitive. Need to break a mental block? Get up and do a few minutes of stretching or walk around the block. Trying to write and the well is dry? Get a paper and pen and simply write the first thing that pops into your head. Keep writing until words begin to flow again. Get laughing. Laughter has a way of clearing mental debris, and the endorphins released have a way of getting you in action. Sometimes the logical thing to do is the least logical. Give it a try.
As I often confess, these weekly messages are more for my benefit than anyone else's. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm ready to tackle the rest of my to do list!!
Quote of the Week
"Procrastination is the fertilizer that makes difficulties grow. " ~Unknown
Betty Mahalik has been coaching small business owners, independent professionals and leaders who want to achieve more but stress less, since 1996. Her background includes several years in the broadcasting and public relations fields prior to starting her own firm in 1987. She is an accomplished public speaker and corporate trainer specializing in communications, goal-setting and leveraging your strengths. Since 2001, she has written a weekly motivational message, free to subscribers, titled Monday Morning Coach.