Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
Since books that talk about working through procrastination are still being produced, that tells me that no one has hit the miracle cure.
The truth is that there are many causes of procrastination, and the best way to get past the stalling is to deal with the cause. Having many methods in your toolbox will make it more likely that you’ll find a way around any procrastination.
Here are 10 of my favorite methods of getting through procrastination:
- Set a Timer The timer allows me to tell myself that I only have to work on something for x minutes, and then I can stop. This gets me started on a task, and gets me through procrastination caused by being unable or unwilling to start.
- Just do it. Sometimes I’ve been putting off a task because I think it’s going to be a big deal or not pleasant. By just doing it, I save myself all the energy that I use thinking about it and putting it off. This employs the adage “If you have to eat a frog, do it first thing in the morning.”
- Break it down. If a task is really big (or if that is the way I am perceiving it) making little chunks of progress helps. If I have a report to write, I may break that down into “Pull TPS data”, “Outline report”, “Write section 1 of report” and so on. This helps me make progress while not viewing the item as a whole.
- Work backward. There are times when I am procrastinating because I really don’t know what to do next. I often envision the task as being completed, and imagine what the last step was to take me there. Then I will work backward down the chain until I figure out what I need to do next.
- Limit scope. Tasks can be too big because of all the information out there. When I decide that I am going to place limits on my task, it makes it easier to decide how to proceed. Rather than saying I have to generate ideas for the blog for next month, I say I have to generate 2 ideas. Little and often is the principle behind breaking this down.
- Comparisons. I can usually decide which task of two to do. So I pair off my task list and give myself the choice of two. I can mop the floor or I can write a blog article. After I’ve written the blog article, I can compare the un-chosen task with a new one (mop the floor or remove poison ivy). Working my way through a task list in this manner gives me the feeling that I am getting out of unpleasant tasks, but it’s all relative. (This applies the adage “if you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugly one first.”)
- Analyze and Correct. If I have been procrastinating on something for a long time, I ask myself why? Is it un-doable? Is it something I really don’t want to do? Is it an expectation someone placed on me without asking? If I can find a reason, I can correct it and move forward.
- Plan Breaks. For days when I am having a hard time doing anything, but have a lot to do, I use the (10+2)*5 method. I have a program designed to time this, although a regular timer will work. I must stay on task 10 minutes, then I can do anything for 2. Repeat 5 times. This gives me 50 minutes of solid working in an hour, with frequent breaks to satisfy the procrastinator.
- Reward myself. I like rewards. Particularly if they involve an activity I enjoy but don’t get to do much of. So I tell myself that if I get through a task, I can read for 10 minutes. (Time to read is at a premium at my house, and I’m not able to indulge often). Your reward might be something different. It’s a matter of figuring out what you really want.
- Limit myself. This combines breaking a task down and using a time limit. I often perceive that I don’t have a large block of time, so I won’t do anything. But if I break the task down into a ten minute chunk, and do just the ten minutes, I will have made progress.
I am sure that I have more ways to procrastinate, but these 10 methods help me get through most of them. Do you have any to add? Let me know below.
Photo by arquera