It’s always the same story. And it’s infuriating.
I sat down one evening to write this very post about how to stop procrastinating, but I paused first to reorganize some of my Pinterest boards. 30 minutes later, I was still derping around, had not accomplished anything worthwhile, and felt the tinge of regret for not doing the work I had envisioned doing in the first place.
You know how it is: you try to start some Big Project, but it seems like an insurmountable or unbearable task… so you don’t even try. And instead of giving it your all, the fire inside you dies in status updates, tweets, snaps, and pins.
Why does everyone else look so accomplished, and you can’t even start something? The answer is that those people have transcended the need to procrastinate and get. Shiz. Done.
Why do you procrastinate, anyway?
Short story: you’re lazy. You want results, but you don’t want to put in the work—even for the long-term goals you actually want to accomplish. It’s human nature to want the most results for the least effort, but unless you’re a Kardashian that method isn’t realistic.
I have experienced procrastination far too many times to know that it can ruin your life (or at least not make it as awesome as it should be). It has brought my long-term goals to a standstill. It has prevented me from reaching my full potential. And it stops now.
I’ve spent lots of time researching and finding the best ways to regain my focus and get shiz done. And while the temptation to put off work still creeps into my brain once in a while, these tips spark more productivity than I could ever muster on my own.
Before I talk about any of them, I need to mention the cardinal rule of getting shiz done: you can’t be afraid of hard work. The reason accomplished people get shiz done is because they’re willing to dive into the sticky business of reaching their goals, doing whatever it takes until the job is finished. Procrastinating implies that you consider yourself unwilling or unable to do that work—and that mindset can only drain your confidence and drive.
Okay. On to the rest of the list.
1. Visualize yourself getting shiz done
I used to think visualization was some hokey way to use your imagination—not so. Sure, all you do is picture yourself doing the work, devoting your full attention, and deriving satisfaction from it. But after repeating the exercise, those images become stronger in your mind and you are more likely to act them out in real life. Try it: take five minutes before your Big Project, close your eyes, and picture yourself truly getting shiz done. You won’t regret it.
2. Don’t wait for the best ideas/effort
Let’s say that the subject of your Big Project is one you enjoy, and that you are talented at; instead of throwing yourself into the work to make it pristine, go for above average instead. Most people won’t notice the “extra mile” you took, you’re already talented enough to make the Big Project look great to begin with, and the need for perfection may intimidate you so much that you won’t want to get started. In my case, I don’t wait to make sure my blog posts are technically perfect before I upload them because 99.9 percent of readers don’t notice that I occasionally end sentences with prepositions (well, until now).
3. Set a timer
I’ve tried the Pomodoro Method (where you break work up into 25-minute segments with short breaks in between), and find that it doesn’t give me enough of an opportunity to focus. But if setting your stopwatch for any amount of time will encourage you to get the work done, go for it. I use countdown timers for my breaks instead so I don’t end up in a procrastination spiral—but either way you use it, you need to keep moving and getting shiz done. Schedule those pomodoros if necessary.
4. Practice mundane multitasking
That’s my way of describing temptation bundling: tie something you enjoy to something you don’t enjoy, and create a rule to only make use of them at the same time. For instance, you can only watch your favorite Netflix show when you’re doing chores, or you can only have a glass of wine when you call your grandmother. The combinations are endless.
5. “Work just five more minutes.”
I tell myself this phrase whenever I think I need a break—and usually end up working 10 minutes or more afterward. This method is especially helpful when you near the end of your Big Project and start to lose motivation.
6. Re-evaluate your priorities
If your Big Project makes you truly miserable, ask yourself: why am I even doing this? A one-off situation means little, but you may need to reconsider your long-term goals when you find yourself dreading work all the time. You deserve to feel happy and fulfilled when you get shiz done—so go find the work that will make it happen.
Getting shiz done isn’t rocket science: it’s a mindset. If you can guide yourself into the right mental state, staying focused and productive is easier than you think. And hey, you don’t even need to become a Kardashian!