Procrastination is one of those perennial problems. It seems everyone suffers from it at least some of the time, and there’s no one solution that always works.
But there are a few solutions that are pretty reliable at breaking you out of the procrastination rut. In fact, I think these are about the best procrastination busters there are.
Procrastination Buster #1: Do Anything
Often we procrastinate because we want to avoid something difficult or overwhelming. A challenging phone call, a nerve-wracking presentation, a project that’s huge and confusing. If it’s a choice between facing the too-hard thing and checking Facebook, then it’s no surprise the blue F wins every time.
Instead, a good way to step way from the browser and get back to work is to do something other than the hard thing. Work on a simpler project, make an easier call, choose something from your to-do list that doesn’t make you want to run screaming from your desk.
‘But wait!’, you exclaim, ‘If I’m going to do anything, I really should do [insert hard thing]’.
Well, that’s precisely the kind of thinking that activates your procrastination response. It’s like saying, ‘Here, eat this entire cabbage or some chocolate’. I mean, seriously.
By making it easier to stay at your desk – by offering yourself something a bit healthy and a bit yummy – you put yourself in a much stronger position to work up to the hard thing.
- You start to break the procrastination habit. You’re at your desk working, instead of Facebooking or texting a friend. This affects your self-concept, even in the short term. You see yourself as productive.
- You gain confidence. As you tackle tasks, you feel surer of yourself. Those big challenges start to feel less onerous. You did this, you can do that.
- You gain momentum. It becomes easier to do the next thing, and the next. After a little while, continuing becomes easier than stopping.
So, next time you find yourself fighting your procrastination demons, try picking something less torturous from your task list. Don’t over-think it. Just pick something and start. Do anything.
It’s a super-effective way to build procrastination immunity.
Next time: Procrastination Buster#2.[Image by Viktor Hertz.]
7 thoughts on “Power Procrastination Busters (Part 1)”
Thank you! 🙂
It’s always a pleasure for you Calendula. 🙂
I’m really afraid to let go, because I’m afraid, I’ll never get back to it. So I’ve decided, I’m never gonna quit chocolate!
Thanks for the permission to tackle something small in the meantime instead of beating myself up.
@Busy Signals: I’m all for ‘cheap wins’ rather than no wins and getting into bad work habits. I think of it as ‘getting somewhere while you weep’, which is a line from the song Drive Baby Drive by 80’s chanteuse Shona Laing.
Good advice! David Allen (of “Getting Things Done” fame) often talks about the value of having a large backlog of easy, low-commitment, low-complexity tasks (fill the stapler, water the plants, shred the junk mail, etc.), so when your energy is low and you’re procrastinating the “real work” you can get some cheap wins and feel productive again. I find it definitely works for me.