Don’t dream the day away, tips to beat procrastination

If you’re anything like me, you will have a load of ideas buzzing around your head. Mine are usually blog posts or photos I want to take or books to write, but then I get a spare afternoon, the computer is waiting for me to create all these masterpieces and you can find me sorting my sock drawer out.

Yes, the devil that is procrastination has struck.

Over the years I’ve devised a few tricks to thwart that naughty demon and I thought I’d share them with you.

Set a timer

To say that you’re going to write (or whatever it is you’re doing) for three hours can be outfacing. You can’t possibly imagine yourself sitting there for that length of time, despite the fact you do it far longer at work. In much the same way as going into the gym is the hardest part of going, the first few minutes of getting your head into the zone is the most difficult. With this in mind, I have a timer and I set it for fifteen minutes, if I’m still not feeling it after that time, I’m allowed to go and do something else. In all honesty, I’ve never had to.

Reward for goals

If you have goals that you achieve there should be a reward shouldn’t there? Absolutely. Choose your weapon. A nice bubble bath. A glass of wine. Your favourite chocolate bar. All three? It doesn’t matter what it is but if you incentivise your endeavours, you will feel like you are really making progress.

Break it down

To say “Write a book” is an uncharted mountain that will probably only get ticked off your to-do list once a year at best. How do you monitor your progress and feel good about the project if you’re not ticking things off? I break it down into bite sized tasks. My attention levels are challenged and I will put off the bigger tasks, opting for the low hanging fruit. I know this about myself so I make it all hang low (that sounds weird doesn’t it?). I can get far more done this way.

Write yourself a letter

If you’re stuck in a job you hate and the only thing standing in your way of making that change is your time, then write yourself a letter, preferably on Sunday night as the blues are kicking in. Tell yourself what you want, you may be reading this on Saturday morning with the weekend stretching ahead and you’re deciding whether to colour code the spice rack or write a chapter of your book.

Have nominated naggers

Luckily or unluckily depending on your viewpoint, I have no shortage of people I can call on to have a go at me if I’ve not got done what I intended to. It’s an act of survival on their part because they will have to listen to me moaning about not getting on quickly enough if they don’t spur me into action.

Fresh air

It sounds clichéd but a good old walk first thing in the morning gets everything moving. You get some perspective and your mood is lifted. If you slope out of bed and slump in your chair in front of the computer, I don’t believe you’re going to do your best work. Get out there for an hour or so, shower, put on some nice clothes and you will feel far more equipped to scale the summit of creativity.

Remind of success

If you’re constantly looking up to the summit, you have no idea how far you have come and it can feel like you’re never going to get there. Sometimes it’s good to have a review of how far you’ve come. Spend ten or fifteen minutes reading over past posts or writings, you can forget how good you are and when you rediscover this, you rediscover the urge to do it again.

Visualise how it will feel when it’s done

Instead of buckling under the pressure of five blog posts to do or whatever it is, think about how nice it will be when they are done and you can sink down on the sofa with your book and not have that nagging doubt that you should be doing something else.

Have something taken away.

This is the anti-treat system and is for those of us who are really naughty when it comes to procrastination. You will have to call on your strongest nominated nagger and give them your favourite dvd, cd or if things are really bad, your phone. You are not allowed it back until you have hit your target. Are you brave enough for this one?

Take a moment to prioritise

A vague to do list that never seems to go down is not going to inspire anyone to get cracking. If you prioritise your actions so that it feels that things are moving, you will want to carry on. They can’t all be blog posts or chapters. Sometimes we have to do the boring things so hide them in between more attractive tasks and they almost get done without you noticing.

Make daily goals realistic, you can always add more

I am flirting with bullet journaling at the moment but it’s not sticking for some reason. One thing that I did pick up that I like is to keep your To Do list small. Maybe five tasks maximum. The theory is that if you do these and are still raring to go, you can add more, but if you are on an off day, you can push yourself to do these five tasks and then go and do something else, even that way you’ve achieved five things you wouldn’t have done if you hadn’t singled them out.

JUST DO IT

That is the most basic advice I can give you. Don’t think about it, just start typing. Even if you type total rubbish, you’re using your brain and exercising your creativity.

What are you tips for beating procrastination? Let me know in the comments below.

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