It seems as if there’s always something just waiting to be put off. It could be the laundry, filing the income taxes or starting that PowerPoint presentation at work. Regardless of the task, Procrastination and its first cousin Lack of Motivation are usually in the wings just waiting for their close-ups.
So how do you kick them off the stage and get down to business? It won’t be easy but it is possible. To get started, you’ll need paper, a pen, a month-at-a-glance calendar and a small reward.
Identify the project
Start by writing the overall goal and the deadline. For instance, you may have sales presentation that is due next week. Once you have a deadline you can work backward to create a timeline of smaller tasks with corresponding deadlines. What started out as a large project can be segmented into a list of smaller, more manageable steps.
Break down the project into smaller tasks
Once you have your overall goal, you need to start the day by writing down your goals. Think of it as a roadmap to get you where you’re going. If you drive around aimlessly you’ll just waste time and use up the gas in the tank. You may get to where you’re going but it will take you longer to get there.
Instead, try using Jack Canfield’s Mind-Mapping process to create a to-do list. Canfield recommends drawing a circle in the center of the paper with the overall goal. From that circle, draw smaller circles surrounding the center circle to itemize the goal into categories of tasks that are necessary to achieve the greater goal.
Next, draw a line from each category to break down them down into smaller steps. Once you’ve done that, you have a master list of things to do.
Check out this neat resource on how to overcome procrastination.
Eat the frog
We both know there’s going to be something on that to-do list that you really want to avoid. It’s like the Murphy’s Law of Procrastination: there’s always going to be one task on the list that you dread. And that is the task you should do first. In his book “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done In Less Time” author Brian Tracy quotes Mark Twain, who once said, “If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
After you’ve tackled the biggest frog on the to-do list, the items left won’t be quite as daunting.
Reward yourself With small breaks
For every hour of productive work allow yourself 10 minutes doing mindless tasks — making photocopies, organizing files, surfing the internet or filling the dishwasher if you work from home. Just make sure to set a timer, otherwise, you may be picking frogs legs out of your teeth for the next three days.