Do you ever feel like your work keeps piling up, but you just can’t muster up the energy to do anything?
Or, maybe there’s something that you’ve always wanted to do, but you find yourself putting it off until “later”.
Instead of figuring out how to get things done right away, it’s easier to just put your work aside and surf the net. As a result, we often find ourselves scrambling madly at the last minute to finish something we should have started earlier.
Procrastination is a common way of dealing with stress. Studies have shown that procrastinators tend to see things for the short-term, choosing temporary relief over long-term impact.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Everyone, even successful people and top performers, have their days when they don’t want to do anything. But the difference is that top performers find specific strategies to get themselves moving and getting things done.
If you find yourself putting work off until “later”, try one of these techniques:
1. Promise yourself a reward after doing work.
I like to treat myself to a reward, such as the latest episode of my favorite TV show — but only after I’ve done a certain amount of work. For example, if I haven’t started doing any work, I tell myself to a portion of the work done, and then I can relax.
I repeat this process until the work gets done, if needed. But sometimes, I find that once I get started on work, it’s easy to keep going.
As a result, I forgo my break and can keep working for longer than expected. So if you haven’t started on something, try giving yourself something pleasant to look forward to afterward as a source of motivation.
2. Break the task down into smaller chunks.
When we have a big task in front of us, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything and just put things aside. Large tasks can actually be de-motivating, because it feels unrealistic to get things done.
As a result, we often don’t bother getting starting on something we want to do, because of a fear of failing. Or, we figure that we can’t finish what we started, so why bother?
Instead of having a number of large tasks to do, just set one small task for now. You can begin with creating a concrete goal just for the day.
If you’re really feeling overwhelmed, you can break up the task even further. I like to create “mini-goals” that are very simple. For example, if I write an article, I might just set up a small goal such as: jotting down a few bullet points as ideas.
Even though the task is small, it helps to make each component of the larger task much more manageable. It also breaks the resistance that we often feel when trying to start on something.
3. Give yourself a mental warm up first.
Have you ever woken up, and when you sat down at work, you just thought, “I just don’t feel like doing work right now”?
And then proceeded to surf the net for the next 45 minutes or so?
Let’s admit it. It can be difficult to go from waking up to suddenly working on a task. Our brains are still in resting mode and take awhile to get used to thinking.
This is why I recommending doing a mental warm up exercise beforehand.
Let’s think of it this way: you wouldn’t do intense exercise without stretching first, so wouldn’t it make sense that you should get your brain into thinking mode before working?
I like to start off my day by doing some reading. No, not the latest gossip news.
I might read an interesting book that gets my brain going, whether it’s on self-development or psychology.
You could also warm up mentally by jotting down creative, innovative ideas. Doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles are also small, but fun and effective ways to start off your day.
Stop Putting Things Off by Starting Small
Successful people find techniques to get themselves in the right frame of mind, rather than dreaming of “someday” that they’ll get the work done. Instead of thinking about all the things you have to do, just focus on one small thing. By making something digestible, you make it easier to achieve.
What’s the one small thing you’ll do right now?
Originally published on Medium.com
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