I usually procrastinate for one reason and one reason only: I don’t want to do that thing that I should do. Isn’t that always the way? I don’t procrastinate my meals, I can tell you. I don’t procrastinate laying on the couch and reading. But I do procrastinate getting my car inspected and registered. I do procrastinate doing dishes.
How do you prevent yourself from procrastinating? And no, “Just do it” is so not an answer because it ignores the real question: How do I get motivated to do something? Therefore preventing procrastination. How do you “just do it”?
Seriously, I’m asking you. I have some ideas, though searching online yields a ton of counterintuitive and opposing ideas. For instance, Men’s Health suggests not focusing on putting out the smaller fires first, while Forbes tells readers to break up jobs into smaller pieces. So I’m going to ignore what the “experts” say and tell you what I do:
- Get organized. Know what you need to do and how to do it. This way, you don’t waste time on unimportant tasks. This might mean breaking up big projects into doable pieces, but I covered this is in my post about making goals.
- Make a list. Because checking things off a list is deeply satisfying, and then checking off an entire list is a rare accomplishment.
- Focus. This means no cleaning the house first or organizing your books by size and color or watching some TV. Do that one thing and ignore the others. This might mean silencing your phone and social media alerts.
- Start with the most dire or dreaded task. After that it all gets easier. Plus, it’s not going to be any worse doing it now than it would be doing it later. The only difference is that doing it later gives anxiety time to gnaw on your insides. You know this because after it’s done, you feel light and free. Also, waiting can make it even harder to accomplish. I procrastinated developing healthy sleeping habits, and it took me three months of constant effort to change them. I would never do that again.
- Get help. If necessary, get help or just talk it through with somebody. Getting the task or problem out there and out of your head somehow makes it easier.
I still struggle with procrastinating certain things, but seeing the order and happiness in those who don’t procrastinate have inspired me to do better. Do better, be better…
And Choose Joy.