I'm always interested in reading about how to beat procrastination. It's a great way to procrastinate but sometimes it also yields some helpful tips.
At Psychologies.com, life coach Kim Morgan suggests asking ourselves these questions about the things we are putting off:
- What practical resources do I need to organize in order to make this happen?
- What is the smallest step I could take to make some progress?
- What will be the impact if I don't?
- What is the long-term purpose that relates to the task?
Getting together the materials you need may give you enough momentum to take the first small step, and that small bit of progress may convince you that you might as well keep going.
The third question often isn't so helpful because the negative consequence of not doing the task is a long way off and therefore easy to ignore.
In that case, a better question may be:
How am I going to feel at the end of the day if I haven't done this, compared to how I'll feel if I have?
That brings the possibility of a negative consequence (how you feel about yourself) much closer. The closer it is, the more it's likely to motivate you to take action. We're harnessing the power of guilt.
The fourth question, of how the task relates to a long-range goal or purpose also fails when that connection isn't very strong.
For instance, we may know that networking is an important component of success in most careers, but that awareness may not be strong enough to get us to go to a networking event tonight when the weather is dreadful, the meeting is across town, and our favorite TV show is on.
Again, it can help to bring the potential outcome--this time a positive one--closer. For this, a better question might be:
What's one good thing I could get out of going to this event tonight?
If you combine that with imagining yourself getting that result at the event, you create an image to counter-balance the image you see when you look out the window, of the rain pounding down. Set the recorder so you can safely make an image of yourself watching the favorite show when you get back. If the drive across town is putting you off, consider treating yourself to a taxi or Uber ride instead.
Our power of rationalization is strong, we have to do everything we can to counteract it. Questions like these can be useful tools in doing that.