You know that feeling of guilt when you have something really important to do, and yet you can’t seem to get round to actually doing it? Procrastination is something everyone suffers from now and then, but if it’s a daily struggle or a deadline is fast approaching, it may be time to take action. Here’s how to do it:
Know the goal
Sometimes we put things off because we’re not sure exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. Set a mini-goal for today of simply getting clear on what’s involved. Once you know what you’re supposed to do, you’re likely either to be (a) excited enough to get stuck in, or (b) convinced that you’d better make a plan to get it done.
Break it down
Often tasks feel overwhelming because we’re seeing the entire, huge project. If you break it down to small steps though, these usually seem much more manageable. List the mini-tasks, schedule one or two for each day then just do those.
If one part of the project is making you nervous, get started on another part you’re more comfortable with or maybe even excited by. That way you can build up your confidence while making progress, until you’re ready to tackle the scary part.
Work in short bursts
Rather than planning to sit down for a couple of hours, and then never being able to find that time, aim to sit down and work on your project for just 15 – 30 minutes. It’s easier to squeeze that time in around other things, and once you get into it, you may find you actually want to go on for longer.
It’s amazing how little things which seem like they’ll only take a minute or two, like checking your mail, catching up on what your friends are doing via Facebook, or making plans for the weekend, tend to add up and eat big chunks of time. Switch off your phone or put it on silent, and if you’re working online, turn off anything that pops up on your computer, like email reminders or IM chats.
With any task, once you start to make progress, the momentum builds and it’s easier to keep going. So the trick is to find ways to get yourself moving, and then let the process carry you from there.