We all struggle with procrastination from time to time. Even the best of us get saddled with incomplete projects and moments of utter and complete stuck-ness. When we’re riddled with incomplete stuff we get more stressed and out of alignment. After all, we “said” we’d do it, and now we’re languishing in the land of incomplete. It pulls us out of integrity and leaves us feeling bad about ourselves and dodging accountability.
The good news is that you have the power to move through procrastination and bring things to completion (sometimes that means abandoning a project that no longer serves you). Here’s how to navigate the waters and move powerfully forward.
1. Have a Plan
You wouldn’t go on a trip without a destination and a map, right? Same goes for projects of any size. If you think about it even making dinner is a mini experiment in project management. Don’t go into planning paralysis but set forth some clear, basic steps for yourself so you have an idea of where you are going and how to get there.
2. Break it Down (chunking)
A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. No one would ever accomplish anything if all they thought about was how do I get from point A (where I am now) to point Z (where I want to go) and the massive amount of steps in between. Break things down to their simplest action and start there. Completion comes from stringing together small steps.
3. Is it a project worth doing? Do I want/have to do it?
Why do you want to complete this project? Is it something you feel you should do? Are you obligated to do it? Or, is it a project that was a great idea but needs to be put to rest? Just because it is on the to-do list doesn’t mean you have to do it or complete it. However, you do need to decide and either move forward on it, abandon it, or put it aside for a future (specific) date. Otherwise the incompletion will hold you down and keep you from moving forward with any of your other goals.
4. No Pile Ups – Do it, Delegate it, Dump it
Don’t let stuff pile up. Besides the obvious clutter factor, all it does is lead to overwhelm and more stuck-ness. Take action, let someone else do it, or toss it and be done with it. At a maximum you should only ever handle something twice (once to look at it and set a date to do it, and then actually doing it). Most things should only ever be touched once.
5. Set realistic targets – under promise and over deliver
Optimism is fine unless it leads you to a consistent path of over committing and then panicking. Always add a buffer to all your estimates and schedules. If you can do something by next Monday, make your commit date next Wednesday or Friday. It is always better to over deliver and complete something early than to overpromise and tarnish your reputation.
6. Reward yourself along the way (mini-milestone parties)
Each day spend some time basking in what you have accomplished. Acknowledge yourself for action taken thus far. Even if you are waiting for results to materialize, you need to have some mini parties for yourself or you will feel like an underappreciated slave. How you treat yourself is a direct reflection of how successful you’ll be in the long run.
7. Just get started
Feeling totally paralyzed and stuck? Do something! Do anything. One small step and any action at all will help to start propelling you forward. Think about it. When you take one step you can’t help but take another. The same holds true for getting things done. One foot in front of the other will build momentum and before you know it you’ll cover a great distance.
8. Get support
One of the biggest reasons successful people, especially athletes succeed is that they enlist the help of other experts. Accountability and support is critical. No one can do it all alone as we are all connected. The power of the group mind is awesome. Get a buddy, hire a coach, or start a mastermind group – just get started and surround yourself with great people who will inspire you and hold your feet to the fire.
9. Mind Your Energy
Your energy level is the most important part of the plan. If you have no energy, you have no forward motion and end up going nowhere. Just pushing through it is a myth. You will be more energized if you stay focused on what you DO want and balance action and activity with inaction and quiet. Your mind and body needs this ying and yang in order to sustain the energy needed over the long haul to not only complete but also enjoy the journey of any project you undertake. Work smarter, not harder, is not just a cliché.
10. Acknowledge yourself for what you’ve done not what is still on the to-do list.
Much like the mini-parties this step is crucial. Are you always looking at what is left on the to-do list? If so, it is time you started a list of accomplishments and started focusing on that. Lack brings more lack. If you want more of what you DO want, focus on what you already have and have already accomplished. It will not only make you feel good it’ll truly motivate you to keep moving forward.
How will it feel when you have it completed?
Use these powerful feelings to help propel you forward. Most importantly indulge in getting some of those feelings right now, today so you aren’t living for some “future” that may or may not arrive.