There are probably some parts of your job that you like better than others, right? And if you’re like most people, you tend to put off doing the parts of your job that you don’t enjoy. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make them go away. Instead, they multiply. One pile of paper you don’t want to sort becomes ten piles; two or three cold calls become 11 or 12.
If you’re a born procrastinator, these secrets can help you get off the starting blocks.
1. Don’t Wait Until You Feel Like Doing Something
It’s a myth that you have to be in the mood for something in order to do it well. In fact, it’s often action that leads to motivation instead of the other way around. In other words, if you make yourself do something you don’t want to do, you may find that once you get into the task it’s enjoyable – or at least, less awful than you thought it would be.
2. Do the Worst Thing First
Motivational speaker and writer Brian Tracy wrote a popular book for procrastinators called “Eat That Frog!” The title was loosely based on the Mark Twain comment that if we had to eat a huge, ugly frog for breakfast each morning, nothing else would seem as terrible for the rest of the day. So figure what you frog is and gulp it right down. Once it’s done and out of the way, you no longer have to dread it and you can take on projects you enjoy more.
3. Break Big Projects Down into Small Components
I once saw a cartoon purporting to show Michelangelo’s “to do” list. It had only one item on it: “Paint Sistine Chapel.” If your “to do” list looks like that, no wonder you’re discouraged. Instead, break massive projects down into do-able bites, the smaller the better. Even if you only get 1/10 of the project done, you’ve still completed 10 percent more than you would have if you’d spent all day procrastinating.
4. Stay on Task
Does this happen to you? You start doing online research for a client, but then you come across a webpage that reminds you of another client, so you send her the URL. Then you realize you haven’t updated your Facebook page once all week, and then you remember that your wife’s birthday is coming and you need to buy her a present. Hopping from task to task like that, though, won’t get anything done, and it’s liable to leave you feeling discouraged and frustrated. Once you start a task, don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Push aside interruptions and other ideas that pop into your brain and stay focused on your job until you finish it, or at least until you’ve reached the goal you set for yourself.
5. Reward Yourself for a Job Well Done
When you do finish a project that’s been a source of procrastination, allow yourself a little celebration. Maybe you can take the afternoon off and go to the beach with your family, or just make time that evening to curl up in an easy chair with your favorite book and a cup of coffee. Whatever treat you decide to give yourself, don’t skimp; make it pleasurable enough to motivate you to do more of the things on your “to do” list.