May 24, 2012
The Spanish have a proverb:
Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.
Clever wordsmiths, those Spaniards. We all procrastinate. We dawdle and delay, dally and defer. My office floor is still home to a pile of papers that needed filing two months ago; I’m waiting for them to stop dallying and file themselves. Whatever the task, whatever the excuse, the tips below will help you do today what most people put off til next month.
1. Ask yourself, What’s the holdup?
People procrastinate for many reasons. Some fear failure. Some avoid boring jobs. Others shy away from getting tangled in a complicated mess (i.e., my pile of papers). Knowing the cause of the problem may open your eyes to an obvious solution.
2. Do you need to do it?
Simple question, but it’s a good one. Sometimes we put something off because it’s not important. If you don’t really need to do it, free yourself of the mental burden and drop the task from your to-do list.
3. Ask for help.
I have an ancient window mechanism that takes the effort of a drawbridge operator to open. Last month, unsurprisingly, it broke. Someone had to fix it, but I was hoping that someone wasn’t me. So I put it off. After weeks of gazing at the window without actually doing anything, I asked a friend to help. It wasn’t only because I have the mechanical skills of an uncoordinated squid; I knew it would get me moving.
4. Commit just five minutes.
That’s it–just 300 seconds. Telling yourself you only have to do something for a sliver of time does two things. It transforms a big job into a tiny matter: Five minutes? I can do that. And because getting started is the hardest part, once your five minutes is up, you’ll often drive right on through to the finish.
5. Focus on the end.
Thinking about how you’ll feel when you’ve done whatever needs to be done may motivate you to make it happen. I don’t much like to organize, but I love to be organized. This is what I focus on–the feeling of having everything in its place, clean and tidy–when I need to declutter a space. However, my pile of papers proves that I have some work to do.
6. Just do it.
Quit stalling. Quit rationalizing. Stand up,walk to the danger zone, and get to work.
Do you have any other tips or comments? Please feel free to post below.
Until next time…
About the author:
Jason M. Gracia
Author, Shifting the Balance