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Procrastination often gets a bad rap. It is viewed as lazy, having a lack of organization, poor prioritization, or bad time management. But sometimes the pressure is what motivates someone to get the work done. Others have their thoughts running through their minds in a brainstorm, only getting it on paper when they feel they have it right, which is often at the last minute. But if procrastination is not a motivator for you, here are a few tips to help get things going.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the size of the task, try breaking it down into small, more manageable-sized tasks. You can only do one thing at a time, so only focus on one piece at a time. After all, you don’t go from the bottom of the staircase to the top in one leap – you take it one step at a time!
If self-doubt is what is standing in the way of progress, try reminding yourself that even a small completion will give your confidence a boost. Start with something small and achievable, even if it is not directly related to the bigger task, just get moving and show yourself that you can do it! And don’t forget that everyone makes mistakes, and those mistakes can be opportunities for fine tuning and learning. Don’t get discouraged – if we aren’t learning, we aren’t growing!
Sometimes a project just isn’t our cup of tea. Whether it’s a work assignment or something at home that just has to be done (like paying bills, yuck!), if you aren’t interested in getting it done, then getting started can seem like a massive undertaking. Tell yourself you will devote 15 minutes to the task, and if it is absolutely miserable, you will move on to something else and try again for another 15 minutes later in the day. Chances are, you will get through that 15 minutes and feel yourself falling into a pattern that isn’t completely intolerable. In that case, keep going! Try starting with the easiest or most interesting part. If the beginning is difficult, skip it and do something else; you can always come back to it later, maybe with even better ideas!
Anxiety can play a huge role in procrastination, so trying to force yourself to get started immediately may only heighten your anxiety. Instead, schedule a time later in the day, or even in the week, that will be dedicated to getting started. Give yourself some breathing room and time to clear your mind of other things. If there is laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning the house, or commitments to others on your mind, you will not be focused on the task. Clear your calendar and clear your mind so you can devote your attention to what needs to be done. And don’t forget to breathe deep!