Do not put off reading this article. Yes, I know you are busy. Yes, I know you will read it tomorrow. But just humor me and read this now.
Wow, you did it! One of the most common problems that people have is procrastination. We know what we want to do and should do. But still we end up spending hours upon hours doing “easier” work or escaping via TV, blogs or daydreaming. Nothing is wrong with a little escape from time to time. But, if you procrastinate too much, you will never get the important things done. And you will also send yourself into negative spirals where your self-esteem plummets and you spend days getting down on yourself for accomplishing the bare minimum.
So what can you do? Here are 7 timeless tips to help you to stop procrastinating and start living your life more fully and more productively.
1. Stop thinking. Start doing. Now.
A bit of planning can certainly help you to achieve what you want to achieve. But do not plan too much. A lot of planning and Thinking tends to have the opposite effect. You think and think and try to come up with “the perfect plan”, one with no mistakes, where you will never be rejected, where there will be no pain or difficulties. The perfect plan does not exist. But if you keep working on it you will protect yourself from possible failure and from actually having to make a move. So, forget about perfection and just get at it!
2. Don’t blow a task out of proportion.
Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. You will be making mountains out of molehills. The more hours and days you put something off the worse it dwells in your mind. And since you are putting it off you are most likely thinking about negatively. This makes a little thing a big monster that is threatening to ruin your life.
So plan a little and then take action. Or, don’t plan at all. You have been there before and you know what needs to be done. So stop thinking and just do it no matter how you feel and what you think.
3. Just take the first step.
When you start to look too far into the future any task or project can seem close to impossible. And so you shut down because you become overwhelmed and start surfing the internet aimlessly instead. That is one of the reasons why it is good to plan for the future but then to shift your focus back to today and the present moment. Focus on taking the first step today. Often the first step is the hardest. When you finally begin, you are halfway done.
Put yourself in state where you are positive and open to make that first move. You won’t be able to see the whole staircase anyway because it constantly shifts along the way. That’s why the best of plans tend to fall apart at least a bit as you start to put it into action. You discover that your map of reality isn’t really reality. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will gain momentum.
4. Start with the hardest task of your day.
Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves. Maybe you have an important call to make that you also fear might be uncomfortable. Maybe you know you have gotten behind on answering your emails and have big pile to dig into. Maybe you have the last five pages of your paper to Finish. Whatever it may be, get it out of your way the first thing you do.
If you start your day this way you will feel relieved. You feel relaxed and good about yourself. And the rest of the day – and your to-do list – tends to feel a lot lighter and easier to move through. It’s amazing what a difference this one action makes.
5. Just make a decision. Any decision.
We feel bad when we sit on our hands and don’t take action because it’s unnatural. The natural thing is to be a decisive human and take action. When you procrastinate you want to do something but you don’t take the action that is in alignment with that thought. This leads to internal conflict.
What you do always sends signals back to you about who you are. Sure, doing affirmations where you say to yourself that you are confident can help you. But taking the confident actions you want to take over and over again is what really builds your self confidence and a self-image of you being a confident person. When you procrastinate you lower your self esteem and send signals back to yourself that you are either not capable or an indecisive person.
6. Face your fear.
It’s hard to just take action. To risk looking like a fool. To make mistakes, stumble and inflict pain upon yourself. To take responsibility for your own life. The easier choice can come with a sense of comfort, with a certain level of success, pangs of regret for all the things you never dared to do and a vague sense of being unfulfilled. You wonder about what would have happened if you had taken more action and more chances.
But, if you never take a chance, you will never get results. AND action makes you feel ALIVE!
7. Finish it.
So much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they started. Not taking the first step to start accomplishing something can make you feel bad. But not finishing what you have started can also leave you in a sort of negative funk. You feel fatigued or stressed and sometimes you don’t even know why. It’s like someone zapped your inner power.
If that is the case, go over tasks and projects what you are currently involved in. Is there something there you know you want to finish but haven’t yet? Try to get that finished as soon as you can you will start to feel a whole lot better.
Don’t think you have to finish everything you started. If a book sucks, read something else. Using this as an excuse to quit something that feels hard or unfamiliar is not a good idea. But there is no law that says that everything has to be completed.
Now, get on out there and just start doing!