Advertising

The Nike Guide to Overcoming Procrastination

The Nike Guide to Overcoming Procrastination
Advertising


    You aren’t doing what you know you should be doing.

    And it’s eating at you. Every time this task you’re postponing and postponing crosses your mind, you feel stress and anxiety.

    But somehow you just take your mind to something else again, and postpone once more.

    And that’s exactly what procrastination is… The postponement that never ends.

    It steals your peace, joy and creative energy. Instead of crafting awesome words, works of art, or solutions, you sit with worries, stress, anxiety and a subtle realization that you’re still not the productive, task-accomplishing machine that you hoped to be by now.

    Just do it!

    Nike’s slogan is old news to all of us.

    Advertising

    Still, when it comes to procrastination, it’s such good advice. No matter which way you look at the constant postponement that we label procrastination, there’s simply just one solution.

    Just do it!

    That task that you’re postponing that’s stealing your joy… Start with it, and start it now. There’s no such thing as tomorrow. We always only have the present moment. And we should use the present moment to do what needs to get done.

    Watch your thoughts

    Yes, this all sounds a bit easier in theory than it is in practice.

    But some simple awareness can help you overcome your obstacles. When you think of a task that you’ve been postponing, and you decide to do it, watch out for mental sabotage.

    Some thoughts will arise with reasonable excuses for not doing the task right now. These thoughts are the very reasons why you’ve been postponing the task in the first place.

    “I’m a blogger, so I’m not sure it’s a good idea to start webinars. I should rather just focus on my writing.”

    Or…

    “I know it’s important to sort out my office and I do believe the clean working space will give me more creative energy, but today’s a busy day, and I don’t have time for admin. I need to keep my clients happy…”

    These thoughts are the little foxes that sustain procrastination. You need to have your guard up, be on the lookout for them, and as soon as they appear, you need to counter them.

    And there’s only one way to counter such thoughts. You need to take decisive action, right now. Let me show you how…

    Take five minutes

    This is a short blog post. I like writing longer posts, in the region of 1,500 words. I kept this one short (at less than half my preferred length) to save you at least five minutes.

    And no, you can’t go on a tea break or catch up on the latest sport news.

    I want you to use that five minutes right now.

    Advertising

    As you read this article, your conscience would have shown you a task that you needed to have done by now. What task was that? If there’s more than one, just pick one. Any one.

    It could be redoing your website’s about page. Or (more likely…) it could be starting that book you’ve been dreaming about for years.

    I want you to take 5 minutes right now, and start with that task.

    The idea is not to complete it right now.

    Just get a start. And don’t think bigger than five minutes. Only use five minutes.

    What might happen is that the energy you get from starting is so great that you work on it for an hour.

    Or after five minutes you’ll stop, but the feeling of accomplishment and the fact that you took five minutes and actually worked on it might get you to take another five minutes this afternoon or tomorrow.

    Advertising

    It gets the ball rolling…

    Oh, and right about now your mind will be coming up with some clever little excuses. These are mere thoughts. The ones that cause procrastination. Awareness is key.

    Please ignore them and start. Take action. Do something! Right now…

    And then commit to taking five minutes (yes, only five minutes!) to work on your project every day.

    You’ll be amazed by the results. Just do it!

    I would love to hear about your experiences and your progress in the comments section below.

    (Photo credit: Motivational Phrase via Shutterstock)

    Advertising

    More by this author

    The Nike Guide to Overcoming Procrastination Content Marketing: The Entrepreneur’s Most Productive Task

    Trending in Productivity

    1 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 2 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 3 5 Values of an Effective Leader 4 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them 5 The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
    Advertising

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

    Advertising

    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

    Advertising

    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

    Advertising

    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

    Advertising

    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    More on Building Habits

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Advertising

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

    Read Next