“Procrastination is like a credit card: it's a lot of fun until you get the bill.” ~ Christopher Parker
Struggling to get going? Dreading an important task because it seems too hard or too boring? You could be turning into a master procrastinator!
Too often their inner monkey trounces the rational decision maker, explains Urban, spiriting them to the Dark Playground for immediate gratification. Important goals are abandoned—until an impending deadline—aka “The Panic Monster”—kicks them into action.
Unfortunately, sighs Urban, many highly valued aspirations have no deadline. Procrastinators lose valuable time and opportunities.
Want to win this battle?
Start growing your ability to resist feel-good-now temptations in order to get what you really want. To boost self-discipline, productivity gurus and expert coaches have recommended various strategies. Below I describe nine of their top procrastination tools that can help you get going on what matters—even when you don’t feel like it.
What have you got to lose besides a sense of impending doom?
1. EAT THAT FROG FIRST.
A proven strategy, this involves identifying the big priority item you’ve been putting off. Then do it first thing in the morning. Otherwise less critical things such as interruptions, impulses, and other distractions magically take precedence.
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” ~Mark Twain
2. BE KIND TO YOUR FUTURE SELF.
You wouldn’t leave the dishes in the sink for your roommate, would you? Then stop shifting undesirable tasks to your future self. Think it doesn’t matter? It does because your behavior is quietly training your brain and body. As James Clear wrote, “Every action you take is a vote for the kind of person you will become.” Do you want to create a slacker or a dependable person?
3. CALENDARIZE THE START TIME.
Leverage the fact that your mind abhors open loops. Note how often your mind wanders to scheduled appointments before (but not after) they happen. Enter the task in your planner or calendar. If you fail to honor your appointment with yourself, note how your inner critic jumps on your case. Train your brain to expect to start work at the same time each day for more power.
4. SET A TIMER FOR 10 MINUTES.
Then get to work! Chances are high that when the bell rings, you’ll be energized to work for 10 more. Similarly, you can tweak the classic Pomodoro technique (work for 25 minutes, then break for 5 minutes) to suit your needs. As Stephen King advises, “Don’t wait for your muse.” Taking action create the momentum you need. Your muse will find you after you get started.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe
5. TAKE JUST ONE SMALL STEP.
When the path up the mountain looks too steep or long, concentrate on your feet, not the peak. Identify one small task you can do without worrying about the entire project. Start anywhere you can, trusting that as you finish one step, the next one will become clearer.
6. SET AN END TIME.
Experience more energy and focus by pre-determining the end time. Your inner child finds it easier to settle down at the desk when she knows that recess is coming.
7. IGNORE YOUR INNER CRITIC.
You are not required to pay attention to unhealthy inner thoughts. Notice when you start leaning into perfectionism, and then pivot towards a growth mindset. Forget doing a perfect job—aim instead for getting better. Tip for writers: Start with a “zero draft “ for later editing.
“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Jodi Picoult