It happens to the best of us: you’ve got something that’s been sitting—stuck!—on your to-do list for months now.
Sitting there, smug and unmoving, and bugging the life out of you. You want to kick it.
That brilliant creative idea that was going to change the world, or that new marketing venture for your online business. An idea for a book, or a painting.
I’m not talking about the tasks you have to do, like tax returns, or getting the car serviced. I’m talking about that project that you know will improve your life no end … if you can just get going on it.
Today is the day it is going to happen. You have the whole day stretching out ahead of you with no appointments. The decks are clear so you can make headway right now. Yes.
You sigh, take a deep breath, grab a coffee from the kitchen and gear yourself up. Yes, right now you will finally get started on your dreams.
Only first … you just need to check your email in case someone has tried to contact you in the last 10 minutes, and then Facebook to check in with what’s going on in the world….just get all that out of the way so you can start working. Indeed.
Two hours later you emerge, blinking and groggy, and oh look, it’s time to fix lunch.
Before you know it, it’s mid-afternoon and you may as well nap. Or catch a few minutes of Ellen, or Dr. Phil. Judge Judy in a pinch. Oh, now the dogs need walking. Can’t put them off.
Almost time for Netflix….
You’ve accomplished nothing! Another day gone and you don’t feel especially good about yourself. I guess it’s time to write this day off, stop beating yourself up, and relax. Eat some chocolate.
After all, tomorrow is another day. Said Scarlett. Right before Rhett walked out on her.
Day after day after day, you put this project on your list and determine to do it, and then don’t. Whatever your strategy, it isn’t working….
Say hello to procrastination, the bugbear hidden strategy of most creative people…
… freelancers, entrepreneurs, artists, writers…. and retirees in particular. Really, anybody who doesn’t have a job that forces them to hit deadlines, or a boss keeping a beady eye out for results. Nobody to answer to for how time is being spent.
OK, peeps, so what is the problem here? We all put things off. What’s the big deal?
The deal is this. Nothing feels better than getting something done that you’ve been meaning to do. And nothing feels worse than that sinking feeling time is just slipping away and you’re not spending it well. It can make you feel useless and your life meaningless. That’s yucky.
Here are 3 questions guaranteed to bounce you out of this endless cycle of non-doing!
You can get that project off the starting block, the introduction to the new book written, that new painting sketched in. And you won’t have to schedule a whole day to break the procrastination habit. You just need 5 minutes.
This 3 step solution will release those blocks and make you feel like a hundred bucks. You’ll feel so pumped up and pleased with yourself you won’t believe it.
Honestly, there is no better feeling than actually getting something done! And these questions are your ticket to ride.
They uncover the most common reasons people like you and I procrastinate.
Here they are. Ready?
Think about what you are putting off doing.
1) Does the idea of doing it make my heart sing, or fill me with fear and loathing? Can you honestly ever see yourself doing it? Maybe you are dragging your feet because you know deep down that it’s never going to happen and you don’t really want to do it. In which case, drop it now and don’t think about it again. Ever. You didn’t really want to learn to dance Salsa. Not really. It was a pipe dream. All your friends were raving about it. Sounds utterly exhausting.
Take a few minutes thinking about this task or project. If you feel it absolutely is something you want to do, then ask yourself the next question.
2) What decision do I need to make? Almost all procrastination can be traced back to some decision that needs to be taken that is being avoided. Most of us don’t like making decisions so will put them off indefinitely, and unconsciously it stops us from taking action. Who do I need to call? What do I need to buy? Whose help do I need to ask for? Which art class should I join? What subject do I want to blog on? Write my book about?
Identify that unmade decision and figure out what you need to do to become resolved and get cracking. What decision is holding you back? What information do you need? Then move on to…
3) What action can I take right now that will release the floodgates and get me sailing? What is one tiny step towards getting it started that you can do right now? Do not commit to a day’s work, an hour’s work, just 5 minutes. Set up the blank page on your computer and put a title at the top, get your paintbrushes out and set up the easel, dig up that phone number and put it by the phone, find the exercise mat and put it in front of the TV.
Spend 5 minutes doing something, anything that will get you started.
No more than 5 minutes!
(I’m not going to comment on how 5 minutes can stretch out to fill a morning or afternoon. That would spoil the surprise.)
You usually put things off when they feel overwhelming. The task is too big. You don’t know how to start. You’re not sure you can do it. You can’t make up your mind about something.
Answer these questions and I guarantee your productivity will increase; you will get that job done, or at least started, and feel amazingly wonderful about yourself.
You’ve earned that Netflix binge.
Now excuse me please, I need to check my email. It’s been at least 15 minutes….
If you like this you may like some of my books on coaching. They are full of useful life-enhancing hacks and tips.
Or you may like some coaching, in person or via Skype or Zoom. My job is to help you get your life to work the way you want it to. Contact me below.