Raise your hand if your rate of procrastination grows at the same rate as your to-do list. I'm raising my hand. I've always struggled with procrastination, the more mundane the task, the worse it is. I'm not great with numbers or precision so if either of those things are involved I like to tell myself right off the bat that I probably can't do it anyway. I'm also a rule breaker, so if something is "mandatory" it's like a guarantee that I'll start walking quickly in the opposite direction. So, my to-do list grows, I dig my heels in more, come up with a million excuses why it can wait, and then end up being rushed and putting out mediocre work. Because this little sequence of events has repeated itself time and time again in my life, I've had to create a toolkit for myself in anticipation of it. I thought I would share this toolkit with you just in case there's anyone out there who suffers from a similar malaise.
1. Get In The Zone.
It's okay to take 10 or 15 minutes to set yourself up and ease into your flow. Depending on the task at hand I'll pick a Spotify station, a podcast or an audiobook to listen to. If I'm writing, preparing documents, paying bills, etc. I usually like to listen to one of the playlists in the "Focus" genre of Spotify. If I'm working with my hands or cleaning I like to listen to a podcast or a book. You'll also want to find the ideal workspace for your task. Obviously, if the task is cleaning your bathroom, you know where you need to be. But if you're doing computer work, find a comfortable spot that will accommodate your materials and give you privacy. Set your phone aside, grab a cup of coffee or a giant diet coke and get started.
2. Set A Time Limit
Setting a time limit helps me get focused more quickly because I know I want to complete my task before my time is up. I also like time limits because if the task is particularly unsavory I can tell myself that in one hour, I'll have completed my obligation. Setting a time limit doesn't necessarily mean that you'll fully complete the work within that time frame, but it gives you a dedicated a chunk of time where you can focus completely. For me, the idea of potentially working on something all day makes it feel impossible to begin. If I know I only have to dedicate an hour or two to something, it's so much easier to get started. Sometimes getting started is the biggest hurdle, once you break the seal and gain some momentum you may surprise yourself with how productive you can be!
3. Remind Yourself That You WANT To Do The Work
There's this quote that I saw several years ago and clung to like a frightened child. It says, "Nothing will make you feel better except doing the work". I don't know who deserves credit for this quote but I think it's absolute perfection. The more we procrastinate the more daunting the task becomes. It can interfere with your sleep and productivity in other areas of your life. Knowing that nothing can relieve these daunting feelings except doing the work is so freeing! Also, remind yourself that you don't HAVE to do anything. If you're telling yourself that you have to clean your bathroom and feeling like it's just not fair, well you're the one who wants a clean bathroom and doesn't want to live in filth, so you actually WANT to clean your bathroom. See what I did there ;)
4. Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Being kind to yourself has long taken a back seat in the world of business. It's important to give yourself some good words of encouragement and not be so hard on yourself for procrastinating. Many times we will procrastinate because we feel unworthy of completing a task. It's not always easy to get to work on something you know will be put out into the world and make you feel vulnerable. Remind yourself that you CAN DO IT! That you ARE worthy and whatever you produce will be worthy. Remember, nothing new happens, if you never step outside your comfort zone. Don't be afraid to get started.
5. Schedule your To-Do's
The power of scheduling reaches far and wide. Having something in writing, on your agenda is sometimes all you need to knock out our tasks. Creating your schedule in advance will also prepare your mind for getting started. You'll have time set aside to complete your tasks and all other competing to-do's, which will eliminate your excuses to procrastinate.
I hope these pointers help you get focused and put some amazing work out into the world!