Yesterday, I wrote about the harmful nature of procrastination. Today, I want to share a few things that have worked for me in the daily battle to choose action over time-wasting.
Basically, it all comes down to momentum.
Continuing with something isn’t nearly as difficult as starting it. Once you’re out of the front door, you feel as though you may as well keep going.
Here are some tips that have helped me ‘just start’:
- Try Mel Robbins’ 5 second rule: I’ve found this to be particularly helpful when I’m putting off things by making excuses; things that I overthink my way into avoiding. Mel’s advice is basically to give yourself that 5 to 1 countdown in your head, and by 1 you need to be taking action towards your goal. You might need a lot of separate 5 seconds – for example: 5 seconds to get out of bed, 5 seconds to get out of the bedroom, 5 seconds to move to put your trainers on… This distracts your brain and stops the internal dialogue about how you’ll run after work instead, or have a rest day because your knees hurt, or go back to bed because you slept ‘funny.’
- Take one step at a time: Even the fastest runners don’t run a whole marathon at once, they take it a step, lap or mile at a time. Break down the task and just start one. You’ll probably find that you feel pretty great after the first job is completed and this should give you enough momentum to start the next one.
- Allow for breaks and rewards: I’ve tried to take Pomodoro-style breaks, working in intervals of 25 minutes, but occasionally I find that this distracts me from ‘flow.’ Now, I just tell myself that if I start something, I can have a coffee break/reward in half an hour or when I’ve completed X,Y or Z. I’ve never had a break after half an hour, but the option is there if I want it. It’s often just enough for me to begrudgingly get started.
- Think about the consequences of putting this off: One thing that gets me going, is thinking about the negative consequences if I don’t. Will this project still be hanging over me in two days? Will I have less time with Mr. G because I wasted the time when I should have been working? Will putting this off result in panic down the line? Am I going to find myself in a bad mood, feeling like I let myself down? If I’m answering yes to these questions, I know that I need to endure a bit of short-term pain to avoid long-term misery.
- If something on your ‘to do’ list will take less than 5 minutes, it shouldn’t be on there: This one is hard for me to say. I’ve always loved my lists, but I’ve always spent more time writing about what I’ll do than actually doing it. When I was a teenager, I actually used to write things like ‘get out of bed’ just so I’d have something to tick off! In the last few months, I’ve been practising a tip I read in my Bullet Journal – If something takes less than 5 minutes, do it immediately. Admittedly, I often write it on my list with a tick afterwards, because I’m all about the glory.
Have you had any success with these techniques? Can you do better? I’m always looking for inventive new ways to kick myself into action! Share below… Thanks!