We love being distracted, but we don’t love the results – the undone tasks. However, there’s no need to avoid procrastination and it’s almost undoable. Our brains need balance and relaxation to become more productive.
Procrastination and distractions are friends (or devils) that we probably all live with. Procrastination is always there to decoy us away from our tasks and we can’t run away. This leads us towards anxiety.
It’s nothing wrong with procrastination. Quite the opposite; we need it to stay balanced. Our brains need to rest, just like any other body part. So, don’t be angry at yourself when you postpone things. I recently realized how often I used to blame myself saying: I’m lazy and unproductive. It was true; I was avoiding tasks that were too difficult, unknown, frightening, time consuming or I simply didn’t like them.
Finally, what I did was change my thought process and my habits in the following ways:
- I accepted time for procrastinating and its opposite: anti-procrastinating.
- Secondly, I did a minimal change on my focusing approach. I started to focus on small steps and not on the whole task (goal or challenge) at once.
- By focusing on small steps I warm up my brains and ignite the momentum.
When I feel the momentum, I only need to be well organized. That’s probably the easiest part. At least when you know what fits you most.
So when I’m setting goals, the huge ones, I instantly break them to small ‘minute’ tasks. That’s also why I used to have hundreds of stickers all around my place in the past.
All of the above mentioned can only work if I’m well organized. I don’t care if I procrastinate sometimes. I’m quite aware that my brains need relaxation for a short time.
How do I organize in order to limit procrastination and manage to move all my important tasks?
Before we start, I just want to remind you (and me) to keep things simple. Don’t allow yourself to think about a seemingly never-ending project you need to start working on, but instead on a pen or table you will use. Focus on searching car’s keys instead of the two hour drive that is ahead of you. And then on radio station you are going to listen while driving, and so on. Enjoy life in a simplified series steps.
1. I need to find out what motivates me
- I may connect with a friend and ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean I’m a loser. It means I`m getting closer to solution.
- I might talk about this problem (it could be fear) with other authors who have encountered similar problems in the past.
- I can set a list of reminders that help me focusing on big tasks. The awareness of what’s going on is many times more important than solution itself. That’s why I need to remind myself to be aware and start focusing on priorities. That leads me to outsourced motivation.
2. Get leverage – establish “why’s” to avoid going back to the past
Right at the beginning of setting goals or daydreaming huge ideas I need to declare myself why I want to do this.
- Is this my passion?
- Will this help me solving my problems?
- Will I be able to work nights and long Mondays even If I think this project is a piece of cake?
If I don’t have something to focus on, it will be easier to start paying attention on new social media feeds or phone calls or any kind of unimportant stuff going on in my surroundings.
When I think of leverage I visualize the moment of accomplished task. It’s a moment of joy. But the problem is I need to remind myself over and over. Your reminders serve the purpose of propelling my actions forward and reaching the moment of being rewarded.
3. Setting goals and deadlines
I know this sounds a little stressful. I don`t like setting goals. I rather do what excites me and when it excites me. But sometimes, and for some bigger challenges, setting goals is highly recommended and essential. Especially when the project is extensive and we can easily get out of hand. Deadlines are important because they put my projects in motion.
4. Reward yourself, take a break, and celebrate minor milestones
I love to imagine or visualize the accomplished mission, e.g. my fresh novel on a shelf or reaching 10,000 fans on social media. But that sounds more like a motivation than a reward.
The idea is to reward myself with small indulgencies for hitting those milestones. For instance: a new sofa that helps me to write more comfortably or a fancy pen (for those moments when I don’t feel like typing but writing on paper). The reward could also be a simple celebration with close friends or coworkers the way we all prefer. Just remember to not get so caught up in rewards that you can’t get anything done.
5. Have a partner
Working with someone else makes most tasks easier. That doesn’t mean I can’t create a business on my own. A partner could be a virtual assistant or an accountability partner. Someone I can share my obstacles, challenges and hindrances with. In the past I had difficulties with partnering. What I did was nothing new. I continued on the project on my own until I could partner with others.
I started to write down tasks, thoughts, smart and stupid endless ideas etc. I posted it all over my place: on the table, on the closet, on the fridge, screen, practically everywhere. My bag was always full of small papers. That’s how I started. And most of the time it worked.
Then one day I needed to get organized as I found it difficult to follow and even more difficult to setup linked ideas.
I started using a notebook and filled it with hundreds of incentives that have helped me to move on with my projects.
Bonus: Share big task with others or set a public commitment
If I share my ideas, my excuse and what’s preventing me to achieve goals I find myself in position where it’s more difficult to avoid.
- I can cooperate with accountability partners – those who share similar difficulties with me in order to motivate each other.
- I can share ideas with close friend who I trust and don’t lose the fear of stolen ideas.
- I can post reminders all over my home and write goals and deadlines in my notebook and outlook.
- I can work on my project in public place (e.g. writing book in library or park).
Featured photo credit: female hands with pen writing on notebook via shutterstock.com