Do you procrastinate? A little bit? A lot? There are some who say procrastination can be helpful and others who say that it is so bad that you really should kick the habit pronto.
No matter what side of the fence you’re on, there will be times when you simply must start working on your MIPs or MITs — your most important projects or tasks. The due date is looming and you have to get your butt in gear. Or, perhaps you just don’t like the massive adrenaline rush your feel when you’re up against a tight deadline.
If this sounds like you or someone you know, keep reading to learn about seven super simple ways you can force, er, encourage yourself to take even the smallest of baby steps to just get started.
Procrastination Fix: 7 Ways to Get Started
1. Map it out
Are you overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Begin by looking at all the moving parts and the specific things you’re responsible for.
Then, create a plan. Though you may not be actively working on your tasks (yet), by mapping out a plan, you can:
- Reduce feelings of overwhelm
- Gain a sense of control
- Set a productive mindset in motion
- Pick the ONE thing you’ll start with
If you still feel a little uncertain, jump down to number five to help you get on track and closer to getting things done or at least started.
2. Pick ONE thing
In order to pick your one thing, it will help if you look at your project as a series of mini-projects — smaller tasks that, when completed, help you cross the finish line. So, as you look at your project, cut it down to size so that it’s more manageable and less daunting.
Now, don’t be tempted to go down multitasking lane. Once you pick your one thing, stick with it. Resist the urge to work on another part of the project at the same time. If you get a brain spark about something related to what you’re working on, write it down and follow up on it later.
Oh, and don’t allow any perfectionist tendencies to sneak up on you either. The perfectionist voice in your head can stall your progess with your one thing and make you second guess yourself.
Go with your beta version (tech companies do it all the time) and then refresh it later.
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3. Put it on your calendar
Okay, friend, it’s time to get serious about not letting procrastination get the best of you. When something is important to you, you make time for it, right? You schedule it which means you put it on your calendar.
Block out that time to focus on your important tasks and do not use that scheduled time for anything else.
Be realistic about how much time you have to work on your tasks. You’ll set yourself up for failure if you overestimate how much you can actually accomplish each day.
4 . Work in micro-bursts
Just because you put it on your calendar doesn’t mean that you have to work for hours and hours at a time. Sometimes You can very productive when you work for short periods of time. 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there — it all adds up.
Use the Pomodoro Technique (there are several apps, too) to help you work for short blocks of time — 25 minutes to be exact.
It’s a rigid strategy that doesn’t allow for any interruptions (or else you will have to start over), but it can work extremely well. I like to use the Pomodoro Technique when I need to write blog posts. It works like a charm! Give it a try to see how it might help you.
5. Do something every day
So, remember when I told you to block out time on your calendar for the project you’ve been putting off? Well, I should have clarified that you need to put it on your calendar every day. Yes, every day. On one day, you might work on your project for 5 minutes and perhaps 60 minutes on another day.
But, one thing is for sure, if you work on it every day, you will get it done. And, that’s the end result you want.
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6. Phone a friend (or your accountability partner)
Stuck? Fallen off track? Phone a friend to help push that urge to procrastinate aside. Try calling someone who tends to motivate you or maybe someone who’s great at breaking things down.
Maybe call someone who asks great questions to help you think things through. Another helpful person to call is someone who understands your project and your role. That could be a colleague or project lead.
7. Get over yourself
Yeah, so when all else fails, it will become painfully clear that it’s time to get over yourself and just start. Yes, I said it. Get over yourself. Stop making excuses and doing everything except what you should be doing.
No whining. No complaining. Just prepare yourself to get on with it. Roll up your sleeves. Put on your favorite tunes. Grab a cup of java (or tea or water) and a healthy, energizing snack.
You know that once you start, you’re likely to be motivated and get into a groove. The first hurdle is starting. So, jump in. Head first. Just start.
Okay, ready? GO!