stop procrastinating koala bear

Is it a normal motivational slump or is it time to stop procrastinating?

Anyone who has goals in their life (and that would be all of us) has tangled with that productivity-killer called procrastination at one point or another. Motivation in general does have its natural highs and lows, but figuring out how to stop procrastinating is actually really important to achieving your goals because the longer you stay in that lethargic funk, the harder it actually becomes to get going again.

It’s an inertia thing, really. If you think back to high school physics class, you’ll remember that whole “an object in motion tends to stay in motion; an object at rest tends to stay at rest” thing. Believe it or not, this phenomenon is as applicable to moving objects as it is to people and their dreams; once you’ve formed that habit of not-doing, it takes a whole lot more energy to get yourself over that inertial hump.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion; an object at rest tends to stay at rest. This applies to people, too!

Fortunately, there are ways of revving your motivational engine back up and kicking yourself out of that procrastination slump. Here are three of the strategies that I’ve been using in my own life to stop procrastinating and get over my own inertial slump:

Stop Procrastinating With 3 Strategies for Success

1. Use the “Two Minute Rule”. The two minute rule is a simple, yet handy technique to help you trigger yourself into action. It’s a psychological trick for reducing the pressure and making the task seem less than it is, and what you do is tell yourself you only have to do two minutes of whatever the task is, and that’s all you have to do. This often helps you to stop procrastinating by kicking that inertia thing into gear for you, and you find yourself doing the entire task or making major progress on it just because you got yourself started (whereas if you had gone into it thinking you’d have to do the whole thing, you just wouldn’t have even begun).

For example, if you’re trying to write a blog article but just can’t seem to come up with anything (ahem) you reduce the pressure on yourself by telling yourself you only have to write one or two sentences (the two minute rule), and just by writing those two sentences, you often find yourself writing out the rest of the article anyway. As another example, if you’re trying to get yourself to hit the treadmill and get some exercise three times a week, you tell yourself that all you have to do is get your sweats and running shoes on (the two minute rule), and by the time you’ve done that you usually find yourself doing your half-hour run anyways.

2. Change it up. Sometimes, you can shake yourself out of a procrastination funk just by changing the scenery or moving to a different environment. In some cases, all it takes to change it up is to change the layout or décor around your workspace – maybe move your desk to the other side of the room or change the posters on the wall or add an inspirational quote or something that will remind you to take action. In other cases, packing up the laptop and heading to the local coffee shop to work can do wonders for helping you to stop procrastinating. Alternatively, the local library is one of my favourite places to regain my focus and motivation to get things done. J

3. Tame the task-distraction. Task-distraction is that phenomenon where you have a certain list of things you plan to get done in a day, but then you get distracted by all the other random “to-do” items that always seem to crop up over the day, dropping whatever you’re doing to get those new items done at the expense of the original list. What happens then is that all of a sudden it’s the end of the day and you realize that, while you’ve gotten a lot of the new “daily distractor” tasks done, you still haven’t touched the original things you’d actually planned to do that day!

One of the methods I use to curb this problem is to use a daily agenda book (I just use an inexpensive academic planner that I bought at the local business supply store) to keep track of everything I want to do each day and each week. Those are the major tasks that I want to accomplish and the ones that I try and give priority to. I also use a sticky note on the page to keep track of the daily distractor tasks that pop up over the day – if the task that pops up isn’t critical, I add it to the sticky note so I don’t forget it, but I don’t do it right away – I make sure to keep my focus on the main tasks and reserve a “distractor clean-up” time at some point during the day to just blast through all of those extras all at once.

Motivation will ebb and flow – this is natural, normal and expected. Usually, it’s best to just go with it; when the energy and motivation are at their low points, take the time to rest up, relax and recharge yourself by doing things you enjoy but put aside when your energy is at its highest. However, when your motivation deserts you for an extended period of time, it’s important to do some self-assessment and determine whether it’s a natural motivational slump or whether the procrastination monster has taken hold. If so, it’s time to get yourself back on track before you really get stuck. Try these three strategies to help you stop procrastinating and start working towards those dreams and goals once again.

photo credit: cc

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