Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beating Procrastination

No matter how many years of experience I have in getting things done and no matter how much I understand about procrastination and its effects on my life, I still occasionally do one really dumb thing: Put off doing something because I think it will be too hard or too long or too laborious or too messy or too boring or too something!

Then I finally do that undesired task only to find out that it was a thirty or sixty minute job--and the great feelings I have after I am done far outweigh the work itself!

I have, however, in the past few years learned some coping mechanisms for procrastination.

Here are a few tips to help you the next time you feel procrastination coming on:

1. Stop! 

Think about the situation for real. Ask yourself truly how long the task could honestly take. Answer yourself. And if it is under thirty minutes, JUST DO IT!

2. Break it down! 

We have taught this technique to our kids in study skills, chores, room cleaning, yard work, etc. Just take the big job and tell yourself that you will not try to do it all right now. Instead, tell yourself that you will simply do ten minutes a day three times a week until the task is done. You won't have to face the entire thing. Just set a timer (another thing we have taught our kids!) for ten minutes. When the ten minutes is up, marvel at how far you got on the project--and leave it until your next ten minute period.

3. Get someone's help. 

This summer I was sinking into a little depression after a family friend died. I was just so mournful for his wife (one of my best friends) and his children (my children's best friends) that I found myself unable to tackle very big jobs for a few weeks. After a couple of weeks of not getting much done, I realized that I had to do something to get myself in gear because classes would soon be starting and I would not have the time that I had in the summer. I decided to work on the things that I couldn't face at that time only when I had help. My fifteen year old son and his teenage friend became y assistant for a couple of hours once a week--and I saved the things that I just couldn't face by myself (things that I normally could have dug into without a problem) for when the three of us could work together. I finally got my freezers cleaned out, some garden produce put up, and my freezer meal preparations back on track. Sometimes it just takes a little help to get us moving in the right direction!

4. Make things you are constantly facing into weekly or daily tasks rather than saving them up until they feel formidable. 

An example of this for me is vegetable and fruit preparations. I used to save them all for one time each week--then I found it harder and harder to come up with the block of time needed to slice, dice, and julienne. Instead I made what was one big project into ongoing daily tasks.

5. For really difficult things, just dig in for a minute or two. 

I know that doesn't sound long enough to even get anything done. But a minute or two here and there starts to add up. Also, one minute soon becomes three or four minutes--and your momentum will start to build.

 I had like ten bags that were filled with various things--a document bag, gym bag, swimming bag, swimming toy/snack bag, old purse, new purse, lunch/snack bag, etc. And I stuffed them in the corner of the room, got two new bags at a garage sale (document bag and purse/go bag) and started using those two instead. Every time I looked at those dozen bags stuffed in the corner, I got a knot in my stomach. I just didn't want to face them.

 One day I told myself that I would just pull out the top bag and spend a minute or two on it. By the end of that ninety seconds, i had that bag cleaned out and put away! The next day I did another couple of minutes. My momentum was building and my bag pile was going down. Remember: You can do anything for one minute!

Entrees ready to go to the freezer!

I hope these don't sound trite or silly--like why in the world couldn't you just clean your freezer or sort your bags, lady! I think we all get overwhelmed at times with way too many things to do. And these tips help me during those times to JUST DO IT!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, do I get this. This is so me. I stare at piles with that knot in my stomach all the time. "It's too much. It'll take forever." :P

    "You can do anything for one minute." I will remember that.