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How to Get Things Done and Stop Procrastinating

Updated on May 2, 2020
sharonbellis profile image

Sharon has a passion for reading non-fiction books and writing about what she learns from her research and her experiences.

Getting things done. I have battled procrastination all my life it seems that procrastination still raises its ugly head time and time again. I believe everyone suffers from this affliction at some point. It's human nature to put things off especially if the task is not fun or exciting.

Time waits for no one
Time waits for no one | Source

Let's Get Moving!

Motivation is different for everyone but one thing is for sure, if you are being chased by a lion you are certainly motivated to run! Yes, fear will motivate you but so will excitement.

A friend made this point to me recently. You need to be excited to do something and if there is no way you can become excited about a task or at least look at it as a step towards something exciting then maybe it is just not worth doing to begin with. Let's look at some tips to keep us moving forward and stop being stuck in neutral. So let's put on your gear and battle procrastination!


Getting Things Done: A Little Goes a Long Way

Procrastination can often occur when there is just too much to do and you become overwhelmed to the point where you just do nothing! We essentially become paralyzed. We don't know where to start and so we don't start at all. This only makes things worse as tasks begin to accumulate and the overwhelm increases.

I know my desk often becomes a massive pile of stuff. Before I know it I have no idea where to start or what to do first. The best thing to do at this point is just pick something and look after it.

Begin by deciding what you need to do with that one item, for instance - is it junk? then toss it. Does it just need to be filed away? - file it. If it is a task, start it. Just get it off the desk and get it moving! Keep picking things up and doing something with them until the area is clear.

This method works especially well with cleaning up. If you have a room full of stuff that you have been meaning to clean just pick a small area, clean it and stop. Come back tomorrow clean another small area. Break it up over time to get the job done.

I used this method with my hard drive. I had a gazillion documents and many were duplicates. I decided everyday I would delete ten files I no longer needed and I couldn't stop till I found 10 files to delete. Before you know it I had a nice clean drive.

Then I went on to organizing my folders, just one folder a day. Now I have an organized drive that saves me so much time. But it took me almost a year to get around to doing this because the task was so large it was daunting. So I decided to use the "little a a time" method and it was completed in 2 weeks and it felt great! It also added so much time to my day as the hunt for things that I knew were in there somewhere ended. Every item was in its place.


The Elephant in the Room


how do you eat an elephant?

One small bite at a time!

Time Can Be On Your Side

If you have multiple projects that must get done you should make a plan. Decide that you are going to start for 10 minutes and then do just that. Set a timer and stop when it goes off and move on to something else for 10 minutes. If you keep this up and you will make progress on many items.

Just a little at a time every day will work wonders however, ideally, when you have caught up, you should only work on one project at a time till it is completed.

Continuous stopping and starting takes away from your momentum. The magic of multitasking is a myth because the brain prefers focus and performs better when concentrated on only one task. Once you have decided on the one big thing to get done, start taking small steps toward it.

As author Darren Hardy says, changing just one small habit can have a compounded effect on your outcome. Small decisions and little steps add up over time. This is a great method for the procrastinator, it just makes it so much easier to start and stick with it. So let's get compounding!

Getting Things Done: The List

Make a list and check it twice!
Make a list and check it twice! | Source

I know this sounds cliché and many are now preaching against the "to do" list but I still feel it is a valuable tool. Our brains are leaky, we can't keep all the things we want to do at the top of our minds and then we forget! I find listing is a very much needed brain dump. Just take it a step up and prioritize your list.

Write the most important and hardest tasks at the top of your list and do it. I sometimes sneak down my list and do some of the easy stuff just so I can get the satisfaction of crossing it off and feel like I have accomplished something. However, don't keep leaving that item listed number one stuck there because it is often the hardest to do.

Just think how great it would feel to cross off the high priority and difficult task and then go sailing through the rest of your list. It would feel awesome. I know I feel so much better when I have had a productive day. When I don't get things done and the tasks just keep being pushed days or weeks into the future - I feel stressed!

So do the thing you don't want to do first; it's usually the most important thing. As author Brian Tracy says "Eat that Frog"

A humorous look at procrastination

Getting things Done: Frogs!

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time
I read this book years ago and I think it is time for another read as the advice is still very relevant today. This is a great book to help you understand procrastination and it gives you strategies to overcome it. Brian Tracy believes we put off things because we just don't like doing them and the best way to get past that is to eat the frog. Just do the thing we don't want to do first and the rest will flow.

Getting things Done: Just Do it!

Just do It
Just do It | Source

Nike got it right. It always comes back to those three words JUST DO IT. Sometimes we overthink things. We spend too much time planning and reading and planning and reading again. We get stuck and we do nothing. I believe the saying is "analysis paralysis". We think we are doing something because we are reading and planning but its just a vicious circle.

Action is needed you must take a step and do something. This builds momentum. It doesn't have to be a perfect step and you don't have to know all the steps you will need to take. You just have to start and keep taking steps and, yes, you will make mistakes but that's okay. That is how we learn.

Analysis paralysis is a product of fear; the fear of doing the wrong thing or making the wrong choice. Never taking action can lead to regret; you will never run out of ideas or choices but you will run out of time.

Ideas float in and out of your mind and many never get acted on. What are we waiting for? There is no perfect time to take action and conditions do not have to be perfect because they never will be.

You don't have to get it right you just have to get it going. Take all the emotion out of it, get over that "I don't feel like it" feeling because you will not always feel like it.

Put those feelings aside and just do, like a robot. Be mechanical and start, once you get over that hump, momentum will build. It will never be smooth sailing, you will have those dips and valleys because nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Just do it. Build the momentum. One tiny step at a time.

William James:

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

Learn More About Procrastination: Resources Online

Snails pace
Snails pace | Source

Time Waits for No One And It Won't Wait For YOU

Time waits for no one
Time waits for no one | Source

Benjamin Franklin:

"You may delay, but time will not."

Do you Procrastinate?

See results

Getting Things Done - Stress Free!

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
I have read this book and it provides very practical advice on what to do. David Allen is a guru of stress free organization. Sometimes half the battle of procrastination is getting yourself organized. When you are feeling overwhelmed you often feel paralyzed and don't know where to start. David preaches getting everything out of your mind and into an organizational system that you can trust. It takes some time and energy to get your system in place but once there - the work should flow smoothly and the more you get done the more you will be inspired to move forward.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Sharon Bellissimo


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