If you are procrastinating there are a few steps you can take to get the ballrolling and to achieve your goals. Here are some of the steps that worked on a recent bout with procrastination of my own.
- Recognize that you're procrastinating.
- Narrow the thing you're avoiding as much as possible.
- Prepare as if you're not putting things off.
- When you stall, tell someone.
- Follow their advice.
- Report back to your someone.
Let me tell you story of my procrastination as it followed these steps.
I recognized that I was procrastinating because my desk is super organized, follow-up to almost everything pending is complete, I keep making trips to the kitchen for a snack, and I was not picking up the phone to find out the information I need (my goal).
I narrowed all the possible things that I was avoiding to one phone call. The goal of that phone call was to uncover the next step that I have to take with Dad's estate. I know this is the thing that I was avoiding because almost everything else I need to do is done. I was happy to chat with my sister, my business Mastermind group, and almost everyone. I tidied my storage room, my notebooks, my computer, my kitchen (the curse of working at home), and my closet. I'd put getting the answers on the back burner while a presentation deadline loomed even though I might have been able to achieve both deadlines. After the other deadline past I was free to work on the estate question. I put it off for 10 days.
Finally I prepared as if I wasn't putting off this phone call. I reviewed a teleseminar focused on the topic of the question. I made a list of the 6 specific segments of this question that needed clarification. I was really scared by this because it seemed so obtuse and like asking these questions was going to lead to a multitude of related tasks. I was sitting here with all the documentation in front of me 100% prepared to make the call.
I picked up the phone and dialed… a business friend (notice I justified the call by calling it business). This was a major stall move! After I checked in on an issue she's wrestled with for the last week I did it. I said, "I need you to hold me accountable to making a call about Dad's Estate." And then, the tide turned. By asking LM to hold me accountable I had given myself the push to take the action I'd been avoiding and to make the call. I didn't want to have to report that I was continuing to procrastinate. I was on my way to actually making the call (though with dread).
I picked up the phone and dialed – the people with the estate answers this time. Whayland said he couldn't help me. My mind screamed, "Oh no, I knew this was going to be painful." Wayland transferred me to Chuck. Twenty two minutes later I hung up the phone with my answers, confidence, and elation. It turned out these guys really did have the answers and it wasn't going to require talking to a half-dozen people. The answers they gave me are manageable. The complexity I anticipated was 50 times what it actually is. And my procrastination is no more.
Of course I called LM immediately and told her the good news.
Now I have new, doable things on my ToDo list and can keep moving forward on Dad's estate.
What have you been avoiding doing?
Why don't you identify exactly what you're avoiding and try telling someone about it. Be brave after you tell them about it and say, "Would you hold me accountable?" Feel free to offer a prize or penalty for yourself (whichever motivates you more). Watch and feel how your mindset changes once you've made your issue public. Override the procrastination and get that big thing done!