When procrastinating, we are at rest, and the hardest part is getting started. Once in motion, our momentum tends to keep us going. Here are some ideas to create in yourself enough momentum to help you overcome the inertia of procrastination:
- Recognize and acknowledge the personal costs and losses of your procrastination.
- Break overwhelming tasks down into small steps. Divide a large job into five and ten minute sub-tasks, and write them down in the order to be performed. The writing gets you started. Then do one of the five minute tasks immediately.
- Visualize yourself accomplishing the task. Close your eyes and relax: visualize a space being cleared in your mind; establish a mental picture of what needs to be done; see yourself accomplishing the task. Then consciously determine a specific, realistic date, time, and location to actually complete the task. Begin now.
- Do start up tasks. Do you have a cluttered desk which stalls immediate beginnings? Go to your local stationery store and buy some cardboard file-boxes (investing money is a great motivator) in which to arrange materials into organized groups. Label the boxes, and begin whittling that horrible mess down to manageable size.
- Develop a reward/penalty system for your procrastination. Make your rewards of equal value and significance to the difficulty of the task. Establish deadlines and make your reward contingent upon meeting the deadline. If you fail to meet the deadline, assign yourself an unpleasant task (which you’ve been putting off) as a penalty. Be as honest with yourself about this as if you were supervising someone else (including your spouse and children).
- When you find you’re avoiding an important task, go sit in a chair and see how long you can go without doing anything. When you can no longer stand the interlude of nothingness, resolve to tackle the job you’ve been avoiding. Do it now.
- Set yourself priorities, and label them A, B, and C in accordance with their urgency. Frequently ask yourself, “What’s the best use of my time and energy now?” If the answer is other than what you’re doing at the moment, stop that and begin to put your energy toward the more important task immediately.
- Get to work.