While “Just do it!” attitude sounds great in theory, it might not work as well in practice. Sure, chest-pounding and shouting of “I will just do it!” might give you a nice energy boost, it might not always help you to accomplish the task.
However, even the task that you are constantly postponing and dreading can be easily handled – if you know how! This post will tell you how to stop procrastinating and how to eliminate procrastination for good.
Reasons for procrastination
There are many possible reasons for procrastination:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Fear of failure
- The task looks too time consuming and complex
- Not feeling like it (= laziness :-))
However, all of these reasons boil down to one underlying reason: The task is not clear and easy.
If it took you 5 minutes and little effort to accomplish the task, would you do it? You know you would! Just the great feeling when you check off the task is well worth it.
There might be one another major reason for procrastination, though: You really do not want to do the task. Perhaps it was delegated to you by someone else, or finishing it has consequences that you are not ready to accept, etc. In that case, there is no reason for procrastination either – because there is no task to do! Simply accept the fact that you do not want to do the task, don’t do it, and stop giving yourself a hard time about it.
The one technique that can help you to eliminate procrastination
Break it down! No, I’m not suggesting you should drop to the floor and do a break dance right now :-). What I’m suggesting is that you should break your task into manageable steps (sub-tasks) that are not as intimidating.
Even the most intimidating and scary tasks are much more manageable and easy to do once broken into individual steps. Just think about the steps that you need to do until it seems like 1-2-3 and I’m done!
There are two phases when it comes to accomplishing anything – planning and execution.
Phase 1: Planning and preparation
This is the thinking phase.
First of all, play the movie of you finishing the task in your mind – just finish the task in your mind from the beginning to the end, and make it as detailed as possible. This is really important! Think about every single step that you need to do.
Write down all the sub-tasks (steps), either on a piece of paper or better yet, enter them into a task list management program like Swift To-Do List 7. Great thing about Swift To-Do List 7 is that it allows you to write notes for each of your tasks, so you can easily record all the details and thoughts for each step, and it also allows you to easily reorder the tasks using mouse (drag & drop)
Now you should have around 5-20 (give or take) sub-tasks that need to be done in order to finish the task. Is the first step easy enough to do, so you are feeling like doing it right now? If not, break it further down into even smaller steps.
Well organized is half done, and thinking about how to accomplish something is inseparable part of the process. You are actually already working on your task!
Phase 2: Execution – Slay the tasks one by one
Armed with a task list of small tasks, you are ready for battle with procrastination! If you have thought about everything thoroughly, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from going through your task list. Slay the tasks one by one.
If you are still not feeling like doing them, that’s OK. Go through each of the small tasks and write some notes about it. Write ideas about the best way how to accomplish that particular step. Or how could you prepare for it. Or what else needs to be done in order to accomplish it. Anything! Just write something for each of the sub-tasks.
This will place your mind in state of accomplishing the task. In your mind, you already see yourself accomplishing the task. You know you can do it. You even know how you can do it – in fact, you have the instructions right in your hand now!
Just go through the task list, and finish the simple tasks, one by one. Now is the time for the “Just do it!” attitude. Get it over with. Nothing is stopping you now.
Phase 3: Feeling good about yourself
Once the task is done, savor the great feeling of accomplishment. Enjoy the positive emotions, so your brain anchors them to accomplishment of hard tasks – this will make finishing hard tasks easier in the future.
You’ve stretched yourself, perhaps even pushed yourself out of your comfort zone a bit. That’s excellent! Reward yourself. And do not forget to use this method when another daunting task pops up – it always does, but that’s OK, isn’t it? :-)