Full credit to the Coaching Academy for this post on their blog. In my view it’s very useful and kick started some action in me!!!
Your procrastination habits may seem to be very deep rooted and, indeed, they probably are. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be changed.
Forget everything you have ever been told about laziness, tardiness, lack of application and short attention span; procrastination is about how we think. More specifically, it is about how we allow certain thoughts to morph into beliefs.
If we are serial procrastinators then we will have some underlying beliefs that are getting in the way of action.
Changing our beliefs is essential if we want to procrastinate less but it isn’t easy. So here are 10 quick fixes. They won’t mend the engine but they are good for a jump-start.
The 10 quick procrastination fixes
1. More Challenge
To be motivating, a goal needs to be challenging enough to stimulate our interest but not so difficult as to be demoralising.
Too little challenge and we can’t be bothered to start, too much and we don’t know where to.
2. A Suitable Reward
A stroll in the park, a shopping trip to New York, or a room with a view in Florence – choose a reward to fit the challenge and that’s worth the extra effort.
3. Penalty Points
For some of us the idea of losing something is more compelling than the idea of gaining it. Write a cheque to an organisation you can’t bear. If you don’t get the task done, post it. Ouch.
4. Double, Not Quit
Procrastinators tend to be super-optimistic when assessing how long a task will take – so there’s no need to start just yet. We imagine no traffic, a full tank and perfect directions.
Double your estimate for how long the task will take. Better get going.
5. Dive In
Tackle the tough stuff first. After that, it will be downhill all the way.
Stand up, change position, go outside; do something to change your mood and your perspective.
7. The Fast Set
We adapt our behaviour to fit in with the people around us.
If we mix with a crowd of action heroes and heroines, we are much more likely to kick into action ourselves.
8. Bite Size is Right Size
You can’t eat an elephant in one mouthful. Break the task into small chunks and identify the end for each bit.
Concentrate on one chunk at a time and congratulate yourself each time you finish an element.
9. Time Fragments
Do you feel you need to have an uninterrupted slug of time – say, between 2 and 3 pm – to complete a task? This doesn’t need to be the case.
Try using four 15-minute slots instead.
10. Five Minute Start
Do it just for five minutes. No more, no less. When the time is up to decide whether you want to continue. If you do, commit another five minutes to it. Review and then, if you want, another. And another.
If you got this far, you’ll be motoring.
*This is an edited version of the Mañana chapter in the MindGym’s Give Me Time book (TimeWarner Books, 2006).