Why do we procrastinate? Four ways to help get the thing done.

Let’s talk procrastination.

I procrastinate and risk admitting that to possible clients, but I like to be honest. However, I will quickly say that I don’t procrastinate website projects. When I have a job to do, I buckle down and get it done. What I do procrastinate in are things like chores, taxes, and this blog. I’m not entirely sure why I procrastinate in writing blog posts, but I do. It could be because I’m busy building websites, tending to my personal life, or have this deep, existential fear of writing that harkens back to high school research papers. So instead of actively writing, I create reasons not to do it.

Work with it.

I’ve decided to spend a portion of 2019 figuring out ways to stop procrastinating the writing of my blog. Whatever the reasons, I need to just let them go. Let those reasons pass unless of course there’s something that requires immediate attention. That can’t be helped, obviously. But I’m talking about those lame reasons like, “I’m too tired. I can’t think. There’s always tomorrow.” That can go on and on for days. Thinking about it more, I realized that maybe it isn’t so much about stopping procrastination, but working with it instead. So what would that look like?

Start with why

Why does the blog post need to be written? Why does that closet need to be organized? Why do the taxes need to be done? Well, the taxes are obvious, but start with asking why these things need to be done. Be fair and list good, positive answers to these questions. Having those answers gives a more concrete reason to do the thing. It gives more substance to the importance of the task and why it would be important to get it done. Why the blog? Because it helps share ideas and knowledge, could help someone else, and will provide brand recognition and an audience.

It doesn’t need to be completed right now

There’s always tomorrow, right? This probably seems counterintuitive to combating procrastination, but step back and look at the whole project. Realize the whole thing doesn’t need to be done at this moment, today. Thinking like that can only make it all the more overwhelming. Break the project down into smaller, bite sized chunks that can be completed over time. Seeing and completing those bite sized chunks gives a positive boost that the project can be completed. Today, I’ll write two paragraphs of the blog. Tomorrow I’ll write two more and so on until the post is complete.

Give it a deadline

Deadlines can really help kick things in to gear. Whether it’s three days, a week, or the end of the month, having a deadline helps the mind realize, “okay I’ve got this thing to do and it needs to be done by next week. I better get to it.” Being realistic helps as nothing is worse than giving a huge, daunting project only a couple of days to finish. Unless there is a specific reason, give the project some time to slowly simmer. There’s no reason to burn through it. That only creates more work like burnt sauce at the bottom of a pan.

Set actionable steps

Tying into deadlines, breaking the project down into actionable steps that lead to the end goal makes it a lot more manageable. As each step and goal are reached, it will get more encouraging to complete the project. The steps can be visualized on a checklist or mind map that get crossed off as they’re completed. One thing that I’ve done for my blog is to create a list of blog posts I’d like to write about. I carry this list with me and add to it as I think of topics. I then pick a topic and spend some time doing additional resource and note gathering. Then I set that deadline and figure out the steps it’ll take to get there. Say that I’ve given myself 7 days to complete a blog post. Day 1 is a couple hours of additional research and notes. Day 2 is spent writing 2 or 3 paragraphs. Day 3 is writing paragraphs 4, 5 and maybe 6. Day 4 is finishing any additional writing and editing. Day 5 is actually a rest day. I like to step away and come back with a fresh mind. Day 6 is final edits. Day 7, publish the post. Success! All of the steps I write down and cross off giving me a sense of accomplishment.

Get it done.

Working with procrastination instead of fighting it has so far helped me. I have to take steps or else I get overwhelmed and let the excuses take over. So take this idea and go out and get that thing done. I’ll part with one final bonus tip; reward yourself! Whether it’s at project completion or after each step, treat yourself to something as congratulations on a job well done. I’m off to get a slice of pie…

What have you been procrastinating to get done?

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