Procrastination is the first hump we have to get over to do something. Here is a trick to get over procrastination. If there is something you don’t want to work on, promise yourself to start the task and work on it for 15 minutes and then you can quit.
Much of the time, once you get started you’ll find that what was really holding you back was just starting the task. This is a great way to handle exercise. If you dread going to the gym, go for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes if you still don’t want to exercise, you can leave. If you don’t like it that day, no problem, you made the effort and you’ll stay longer on a day when you like it better.
We can apply Newton’s first law of motion to fight procrastination. It is easier to keep something in motion if it is already moving. Once we start something, it is easier to keep at it, but starting is the hard part.
Juggling Frogs says
I don’t remember where I read it, but a few months ago I came across the idea to “just get the file out”. This has helped me so much!
Instead of telling myself I have to get going on a particular project, I tell myself, “I’ll just get the file out” or “I’ll just create a shell of the document.”
Once I’m sitting in front of the word processor or open file, it is hard to stop working on it. If I do nothing more, or walk away to handle a distraction, the file is open on my desk/desktop when I return, beckoning to me to continue.
This also works when I’m in a project and just want to quit. I tell myself, “I must work on this for __ minutes (or until __) and then I can [[do something I want to do]].” Sometimes I quit after the allotted time and sometimes I continue on beyond that time. Either way the project is moved further along – and I don’t just quit when I feel bogged down.
Stephanie Slater @slslater says
So true that just starting is the key! Yesterday I cleaned my laundry room, which had become cluttered to a seemingly overwhelming degree. I told myself I’d work on it for as long as it took one cycle of clothes to go through the washer (about 30 minutes). It was completely clean in that short time! It’s just one example that the pain we visualize before a task is usually much greater than the pain of actually doing it (I don’t think this applies to gardening, however! One small thing usually leads to 4 hours of backbreaking labor in my experience!)
Mark Shead says
I think I agree on the gardening, but sometimes the biggest barrier is just getting out there, dressed appropriately with all the proper tools to get started. Once you are in the swing of things it is easier to go ahead and finish than to stop.
Stephanie Slater @slslater says
So true! I wanted to let you know that you inspired my latest blog post on my personal blog that covers topics of interest to middle-aged women: http://www.mawlife.ca. I quote you and link to your piece from my article “Only start – tips for overcoming procrastination” http://mawlife.ca/only-start-%E2%80%9Cjust-do-it%E2%80%9D-tips-for-overcoming-procrastination/ Thanks Mark – I enjoy your blog but haven’t taken the time before now to tell you! (Is that procrastinating?!)
Maybe another way to inspire oneself to start a task is to tell yourself you can get a blog post out of it!
This technique has worked extremely well for me. For my case, I call it the “hour of power”, in which I will work on my most important task (like writing my essay or project assignment) for an hour, before having a break after that.
It’s really helpful to get me started and it gets easier once you overcome the inertia and gain momentum along the way.
Thanks and cheers! ;)