I hear the same question all the time, from people who are busy every second of every day, from people who have a fairly reasonable work/life balance, and even from people who typically have a lot of down-time built into their routine. “How do I stop procrastinating and motivate myself to really buckle down and ___________?”
There are many reasons we procrastinate.
For some, their standards are so high that it can be too intimidating to start, knowing that it will be difficult to produce a product they can be proud of. Others may not be very passionate about the project at hand and therefore difficult to find inspiration.
Also, there might not be enough emotional, mental, or physical energy left to take on one more thing, so that project just keeps getting shunted to the end of the always-growing to-do list.
Whatever the reason, procrastinating gets in the way of accomplishing your goals.
Depending on what is getting in your way, brainstorming ways to work around those barriers is the real first step in moving toward the finished product.
- When inspiration hits, run with it! There will be days when your brain feels like jello, and days when you are energized and focused. When you feel engaged with what you’re doing, let yourself run with it and save other, less prioritized things for another day or when you run out of steam.
- Something is better than nothing. Your first draft or first attempt will likely not be exactly what you were envisioning, but it is often a lot easier to gear yourself up to make some minor adjustments or do a re-write than it is to start something from scratch. Once you make a dent in the overall project, no matter how small, you’re more likely to feel that you can tackle another step instead of feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the entire project.
- Break it down. This is also known as the, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” philosophy. Clearly, it’s impossible to eat an entire elephant in one sitting, so in order to eat the whole thing you have to take it one small bite at a time. Your project may be like an elephant—it is likely too much to take on all at once, but one small step at a time is manageable. Spend a few minutes mapping out some realistic steps for yourself, and you may find it feels less overwhelming and more doable.
Written By: Molly Halbrooks, LAMFT