When procrastination nags at you, you need some way to convince yourself to get moving right now. Try these five steps when you’re delaying on a consequential project:
1. Articulate what exactly you are doing or not doing, in place of the label “procrastination.”
Example: I just can’t get started. Or: I keep quitting halfway.
The all-purpose label “procrastination” isn’t as illuminating as a more specific description of your problem.
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2. Ask yourself, “What could I possibly be afraid of here?”
Perhaps: Fear of talking with strangers; Fear of ridicule; Not knowing what you’ll do once you finish.
Unacknowledged fears are the #1 cause of continually postponed projects. Just naming the fear often enables you to ignore or overcome it.
3. Ask yourself, “Do I really, wholeheartedly want to get this thing done?”
Choices: Yes; No; or Maybe.
Ambivalence is the second major cause of procrastination. If you resent having to do something, or aren’t sure its the best course of action, recognizing hesitations allows you to make a deliberate choice of whether or not to go ahead.
4. Brainstorm ways to get the task done that would be fun for you.
For instance: Invite friends over for a most-hated-task party; do your exercise walking at a favorite place; turn music on and dance while cleaning up.
Who said your task has to be unpleasant? With a little imagination, you can re-engineer it so you’ll have more enjoyment getting it done.
5. Take some step immediately toward completion every time you find yourself thinking about the task you have the problem with.
Do something small right now! Make a phone call; collect your tax records; find the supplies you need.
By taking advantage of the energy of the moment, you make progress.