- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
How to Get Things Done and Stop Procrastinating
Let's Get Moving!
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.
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!
All images courtesy of Morguefile unless otherwise credited
A humorous look at 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 paralysed. 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 am 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 .
Just decide what you need to do with that item, for instance - is it junk?- 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 especially works 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 it! 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.
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 become up to date you should only work on one project at a time to completion. Continuous stopping and starting takes away from your momentum. The magic of multitasking is a myth 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: Compound it!
When I read this book I was encouraged because it demonstrated that even tiny changes can have huge impact. I had an all or nothing attitude which often ended up to be nothing! Darren Hardy explains how small things can add up over time in either a good or bad way. It contains great examples of how small changes introduced gradually can help you achieve your goals in a automatic fashion. It's hard to procrastinate on something that is now a good habit! And it's easy to start when it is small.
The Elephant in the Room
how do you eat an elephant?
One small bite at a time!
Getting Things Done: The List
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"
Getting things Done: Frogs!
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!
Nike got it right. It always comes back to those three words JUST DO IT. Sometimes we over think 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.
Sometimes you just have to 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 my 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. 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.
"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."
Learn More About Procrastination - Online Resources
- How to Stop Procrastinating: 7 Timeless Tips
Great advice from the Positivity blog. Simple tips to help you to overcome procrastination.
- How We Procrastinate
Offers tips to for procrastinatiors and an app from Itunes to help you overcome it.
- Psychology Today
Offers an extensive link list with loads of advice to help this common problem.
- Overcoming Procrastination
Offers detailed steps to getting things done.
Time Waits for No One.......
The Procrastination Cure - 7 Steps to Stop Putting Life Off
At the recommendation of a fellow writer, I read this book. I am so glad that I did. I had a very narrow view of what procrastination was and now realize how much it permeates my life. An excellent read and very revealing as I saw myself in many of the types of procrastinators. The Procrastination Cure is a quick, easy read and I highly recommend it.
"You may delay, but time will not."
The Endless Pile of Stuff!
Do you Procrastinate?
Procrastination is opportunity's assassin
Getting Things Done - Stress Free!
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.