You probably have plenty of reasons why you don’t get things done. Many of them are outside of your control. But instead of focusing on things you can’t control, focus on the biggest barrier, the one which you have the most control over: you.
You’re probably standing in your own way, so here are 10 things that will help you get out of your own way. Even if you do only three, you’ll finally be able to get things done.
1. Remember why you are doing it
Knowing why you are doing something is critical to getting it done. Humans hate doing things for no reason. Whether it’s washing the dishes, starting a business or filling out job applications, it must contribute to some larger purpose. If it doesn’t, quit doing it.
2. Think about the outcome
What are you going to get from doing this thing? When you don’t feel like doing it, focus on the outcome you’re seeking. Think about how that outcome will make your life better, no matter how big or small the improvement is. If that outcome doesn’t excite you, that’s probably why you aren’t doing it. Cross it off the list.
3. Focus on the important stuff
Nothing will drain your energy faster than working on or putting off tedious things that won’t move you toward your goal. For example, if you’re starting a business, stop moving commas and periods around in your business plan and go out and talk to some prospects. Sell something or get feedback to improve. Focusing on what will make a difference will motivate you and skyrocket your results.
4. Listen to music
There’s a reason music is so popular. It has a huge effect on how you feel. Use it as a tool to change your mood to whatever you want it to be. Create a playlist of songs that motivate the crap out of you. Play it while you work and while you procrastinate.
5. When you get tired, move around
Do some jumping jacks, some simple exercises, or (my personal favorite) just dance like an idiot for a few minutes. Despite common beliefs, you actually get energy from being active. Your body did not evolve to sit at a computer and work for hours at a time. You can do it, but you have to work to create the energy. Combine with point #4 for accelerated results.
6. When you get frustrated, meditate
You’re probably thinking too much. Calm down. Sit in a comfortable spot, relax and take some deep breaths to clear your mind for 10 minutes. If you really want to boost your productivity, meditate before you get frustrated in order to keep your mind clear, stay relaxed and avoid the frustration that stops you from getting things done.
7. Stop comparing yourself to other people
You know the feeling. You’re working on something and you suddenly stop in despair because you realize it’s not going to be as good as [insert celebrity, colleague, friend, relative] would do it. It stops you in your tracks. You say to yourself, “Why bother? It’s going to suck anyway.” First, this is probably not true. You are probably just as good or better than that person. Second, even if you can’t do it as well as that person, no problem. This is practice to make you better. Either way, there’s no reason to stop.
8. Give up the ridiculous idea of perfection
Perfection is a theoretical concept that does not exist in reality. You are probably waiting until the conditions are just right for it to be perfect. It will never be. That’s cool. You only have two choices: imperfect or nothing. Stop waiting to learn one more thing, get one more opinion, or make one last tweak. Just be OK with imperfection.
9. Pat yourself on the back — a lot
Your need for instant gratification is probably keeping you from getting things done. You’re jumping over to Facebook to see if anyone has commented on your status, or checking Twitter for an endorphin rush. You’ll probably get it there. But if you read this far, you want to get things done. Instead of turning to social media for instant gratification, tell yourself how awesome you are after you accomplish each little thing. I’m doing that after I write each of these 10 things. It works.
We love to help each other. It’s addictive for humans. When you are working on a project and just can’t seem to move forward, pick up the phone and call someone you can help. Offer some advice, feedback or expertise. This will give you a feeling of accomplishment. You’ll feel good about yourself and happy that you’ve contributed to someone else’s life. That’s a much better endorphin source than Facebook.
There are always external things you can’t control. They suck, but focusing on them won’t do any good. Focus on any three of these 10 things to get more done and feel better about what you have accomplished.