I know I’ve been fighting it the past few days. And I’m learning that overcoming procrastination isn’t as simple as telling myself to get to work.
Instead, I find myself flitting from project to project, not feeling like working on any of them. My passion for what I was doing seems to have evaporated like water from a flower pot, leaving my creativity parched and dry.
It was time for some serious action to be taken. A little research (and yes, this was another means of avoiding the work that really needed to be done!) and I came up with some solutions.
Ways to Overcome Procrastination
Make a list of what you need to do.
Then take a second look at the list. Figure out what on the list must be done today. Focus on those tasks, and give yourself permission to not worry about the others today. Instead, set some timelines for when you will get to them.
Fight to Get Back that Motivated Feeling
Look at your to-do list. Pick a project. Either a short, easy one, or something you’ve been dreading.
Picking the short easy one means you’ll quickly have something done. You may find your momentum is back, or at least you’ve got yourself into a working mindset.
Picking something you’ve been dreading is harder.
But it’s worth a shot.
If you get it done, first you’ll feel so relieved. You may have such a burst of adrenaline you’re ready to take on your whole to do list.
And often the reason we procrastinate is because we are dreading the project. Now look what’s happened: you’ve gone and gotten it out of the way.
Which is what happened to me. I made a phone call I didn’t want to make. It wasn’t the most important thing that needed to happen. But it was on my mind and distracting me from other tasks. Once that was out of the way, I could move on.
Break Up Projects into Manageable Pieces
Sometimes the big projects seem overwhelming. Sometimes I feel like there’s no point in even starting. It will never be finished.
Or I only have fifteen or twenty minutes.
So break up the tasks into pieces, some that might only take twenty minutes, others that could be longer. Devote just a little time every day to one of those pieces. They say that’s how John Grisham wrote his first novel. One page a day. By the end of the year, he had it done.
Think About Your Why
Ask yourself why you are doing the project in the first place. Then ask yourself why you are procrastinating.
Keep digging. Don’t settle for the first answer.
To show you what I mean, I’ll answer for myself.
Why am I procrastinating today?
I don’t feel like working on my novel.
I’ve revised so many times I’m sick of it.
Why not send it to an editor now?
It’s not good enough.
Then why not work on it some more?
Because I’m afraid that no matter how hard I work I’ll never get it to be good enough.
Here’s the problem. Plain old fear, masquerading as perfectionism.
Once I realize that, I can face the fear and move on.
Don’t listen to the doubts. Just get back to what do you want to accomplish, and think about how will you get there.
Get out of La-la Land
Don’t waste your time fantasizing about the result. That’s just going to lead you to daydreaming and wasting time. When you have your goal in mind, figure out what steps you need to take to achieve it.
Still need help? Here’s a helpful article with ten more tips for overcoming procrastination.