I procrastinate a lot. I (almost) always get the work done right before the deadline, but who wants to live like that? I’m just adding unnecessary stress to my life and as someone who has anxiety, it’s not doing anything to help it. So I decided to work on it, and here’s what’s been working for me so far:
Stop Thinking. Just Do it.
I’ve mentioned my over thinking ways before here and it contributes a lot to my procrastination. Whether it’s an essay or a chore like reorganizing my closet, it can take a very long time (I’m talking months, sometimes) between the time I decide something needs to be done, and until it’s actually done. In the meantime, I find ways to waste my time like doing “busywork” or doing more enjoyable things like exercising or going out with a friend. By not thinking about the task and just diving right in, I’ve been able to almost clear my entire to-do list. Overthinking a task just makes it seem bigger and bigger the longer you procrastinate, so by not overthinking and just doing, it doesn’t have time to fester in your head.
Do the Hardest Thing.
This one thing has been a huge game changer for me. Whatever your hardest, or most uncomfortable task of the day is, just get it out of the way first. This makes me feel relieved and the rest of my to-dos a lot lighter and easier to get through. For me typically, it’s any phone call I have to make that day – to a pharmacy or for a phone interview, I try to schedule them first thing so I don’t have half a day to dwell and overthink it.
Don’t Blow It Out of Proportion.
I find the longer I put something off, the worse it grows in my mind. I tend to make huge mountains out of molehills when I procrastinate and a relatively simple task becomes almost impossible.
“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.”
I know this to be true because fear ends up taking over the longer I have to think about the task. I manage to think of all the ways something could go wrong; instead, have perspective. That call will probably only last for 10 minutes and I talk myself through until the mountain is a molehill again.
Take a Small Bite.
This ties into the above point of not blowing tasks out of proportion – just do one small thing to start my task. That could mean simply setting up my workspace or settling into a quiet space for a call. Doing one small thing allows me to have a small win and move onto a another small step; then another, until I’m done!
Choose Something. Anything.
When I get analysis paralysis, I usually end up doing nothing – then feel worse. The best way to get over this is just to make a decision; any decision is fine, as long as it gets me one step closer to my end goal. This helps getting out of that negative spiral downwards where I know I should be doing something, but don’t know where to start. I do one small thing and find the next choice to be a lot easier.
Finish What I Start.
Once I get over the initial fear of starting, I don’t feel accomplished until I finish what I set out to do. Of course, if a book is really boring and I just can’t get into it, I don’t finish it because there’s no law on finishing everything. However – constantly not finishing what I start can leave me in a negative funk and left feeling unaccomplished, which is just as bad. The sense of accomplishment I get from finishing what I start makes me more eager to get started on my next project.
How do you deal with procrastination? Leave me a comment and let me know!