Procrastination Plagues Me!!!

It seems not to matter if it’s something I really WANT to do or something I loathe, the getting started is the problem.  How about you?  Is procrastination your nemesis, too?  You want to write a blog post or update your website.   You might have already figured out the tech issue or chosen the blog topic, and you’re really excited about it.  But then – oh no!  There it is – that big ugly “P” word.  You just can’t get started.

First of all, you might take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.  I daresay everyone on this planet has suffered from it.  (If they haven’t, I want to meet them!)  And while knowing that others also suffer may help a little with the guilts, that’s not getting you past the “start” button, is it?  Just know that being unmotivated at the start is ok – it’s not at all unusual.  The motivation often comes later in the process.

I think I should confess that I probably should own the dubious award for being the world’s biggest procrastinator.  I can even procrastinate about thinking of my procrastination.  Truly!  (Been there, done that, when I was trying to figure out how to solve this problem.)

Though I still struggle, here are a few tips that have really helped:

Set a timer and give yourself permission to stop when the timer rings.

Twenty minutes usually works for me.  I set the timer, start the project and tell myself I can stop after twenty minutes.  Just knowing that makes it much easier and most times I’ll work til it’s finished.  It’s getting started that’s the sticky point.

Time yourself.

If you have a dreaded task that you postpone time and time again, set that timer again to see how long it actually takes.  You might be surprised to learn that you’re spending MUCH less time that you think.  Agonizing and thinking about it is probably taking longer than actually sitting down and doing it.

Isolate yourself.

Turn off your phone, turn off Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest notifications.  Close the blinds if you need to.  Do whatever it takes to eliminate all your distractions.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you can accomplish some of those tedious tasks when pics of new babies, cat videos, and news updates aren’t flashing in front of your face.

Figure out when you’re at your best.

I am not a morning person – never have been, and I don’t see it changing.  Most activities before 11 am have to be rote:  brush my teeth, tie my shoes, go for a walk.  Anything that doesn’t require brain power.  But give me a project at 9 pm, and I’ll sail right through it.  Decide when you do your best work and dedicate that time for the projects that take the most concentration.  Do your internet surfing or repetitive work during the off times.

Bribe Yourself.

Rewards are different for different people.  Figure out what your incentive is – and it may vary from day to day – and take advantage of it.   Maybe “when I finish this, then I can do that” will work.  Or try “finish this, then snack time.”  Or give yourself permission to take a nap.  (My personal favorite.)  Whatever inspires you – use it!

Get organized!

It’s hard to work when your space is a hot mess.  And that space could be your desk, the organization of your laptop, the physical files you keep, or anything else that seems “cluttered.”   Spend 15 minutes organizing your space – it will also unclutter your brain.  (This could be a good task for that “down” time mentioned above.  It’s definitely a morning task for me.)

Do the work you love.

If you resist going to your desk every day to do work you dislike, there’s no question about why you procrastinate.  And if you can’t change your job to do something you like, at least you can stop berating yourself because now you have a clue about why.

Get cleaned up – and that means your environment too.

We who live the laptop life enjoy working in our pj’s or T-shirt and yoga pants.  It’s one of the greatest perks of not going to an office every day.  While I would never suggest ditching that concept, (OMG – that’s heresy!) we should also take note of the connection between taking care of/feeling good about ourselves and owning the confidence to develop and deliver a good product. (It’s not what you’re wearing that makes the difference.  It’s how you feel about yourself in what you’re wearing.)   And, remember, your workspace also counts.  Make it pretty and inspiring – paint the walls, buy a plant, move a comfy chair into the room.  Paying attention to ourselves AND our surroundings can be a huge motivator to “get stuff done.”

Take breaks.

It’s impossible to work on a laptop, staring at the screen for hours each day without repercussions. Go for a walk, get some coffee, run a quick errand.  Just step away – it will clear your mind to focus on something else for a few minutes and give you a little different perspective.  (Try Take a Break by Eye Care Plus.  It’s a popup that will remind you to step away for a few minutes.  You can set the parameters with your own choices.)

Walk away!

Go AWOL – for an hour, an afternoon or a whole day.  When you really CAN’T write that post, fix that website, figure out that tech, just step aside.  If you’re not motivated to do your best work, the results probably won’t be your best.

What motivates you to get started when all you want to do is loll around and pretend you have nothing to do?  Please share your tips below.

4 comments

  1. Roli says:

    Using a timer really helps me with writing blog posts sometimes. It’s funny how it works psychologically. It feels less intimidating to get through your to do list when your break things down into time blocks. Nice tips. And the addition about doing what you love is so good to keep in mind. Awesome Cindy!

    Roli from http://www.roliedema.com

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