The world today needs more artists, writers, singers, composers, painters, scientists and philosophers. And I believe people are capable of becoming whatever their mind is able to desire or imagine. However, there is one thing that hinders them from reaching their full potential. Yes, it is a giant that casts out everything and makes all of us think that it is impossible to tame it and do the work.
But from my own experience, it is possible to create whenever you sit and stare at a blank page. You don’t need to wait for the right time or inspiration to strike in and you don’t even need to fight hard with the giant, even if the name of the giant is as prodigious as ‘Procrastination.’
My Story –
I was the one who always wanted to help people through writing. I wanted to write articles, books, web-copies, press-releases, blog-posts and also start a business which aims at helping people. But whenever I would sit in front of the blank page or whenever the idea of starting something from the scratch surfaced, I felt the tremor inside.
I was scared of the very thought that I needed to write something as long as one thousand words for a website. I was frightened of the prospect that I needed to start my writing and life coaching career.
I was fearful of the ‘what if’ questions:
• What if my writing comes out redundant?
• What if I fall short of ideas?
• What if I get stuck in between?
• What if I fail to make a mark with my writing?
• What if people think of me as an idiot?
• What if I am laughed at?
And these ‘what ifs’ never seemed to end. I was disappointed. And I kept on procrastinating. One day, while flipping through my old files in my laptop, I came across an audio file and played it. It said: “If you want to tame procrastination, think small, not big.”
This simple idea has changed my life. I started reflecting more on the idea and developed few additional strategies to deal with procrastination and guess what, they worked.
I started working in small chunks, with no preconceived notions or expectations. Soon it became fun for me. I wrote several articles, books, web copies, blog-posts, started my Life Coaching business and formed some new habits. Now, whenever I sit to create something or try to change something in my life, I keep these strategies and tools handy with me. And I never face road-blocks created by procrastination.
In this article, I am going to share with you those strategies and techniques that I use in my everyday life to tame anything that comes between me and my work.
Be sincere, and let me tell you they are going to change your perspective about how things get done.
So, without much ado, let’s begin.
A How-to-guide –
I am going to share the strategies directly with you and will offer you few examples and a ‘do it now’ segment to help you begin taking action even before the article gets over.
1. Think small – This is a great skill, the ability to think small instead of big. Our society and culture have made us believe that we need everything big, huge in order to have its worth. And we all are brainwashed to believe that the big is the ideal.
But we can’t get a lot more done in that way. Why? Because it’s overwhelming! If you think of writing a 300 pages book and begin thinking from there, you will never put a word on the paper or never finish the book from that standpoint. You need to think small, like one page every day.
Guess what, if you think one page every day for a year, you will have written the entire book.
So think small. Think tiny and then see what happens to your capability of creating things. You will be able to create much more when you think small than when you think big.
Do it now: What is the thing that you always wanted to achieve but never got started for overwhelm and procrastination? Think of that thing and divide the task in one day increment and start working.
(Please don’t skip the ‘do it now’ segment if you really want to get value out of this article)
2. Just start – Thinking small will prevent you from overwhelm, not procrastination. To tame procrastination, you need to do the work.
The best way to do the work is to start. I know you would tell me these things –
a. I have relatives at my home, not getting the time to start
b. I have other projects piled up
c. I have a rude boss who always wants me to do overtime
d. I need a proper environment to do the work
e. I don’t have ideal mindset to start it
My answer – You already know what they are, yes, the tools of procrastination. You give these excuses power and thus empower your procrastination and as a result you never start working on your dreams.
Give yourself a Start, regardless of where you are and which condition you are in. No excuses please.
Do it now: In the previous section I urged you to think about your dream in smaller increments. Right now, you will take the first smaller increment and make it a reality. Suppose you always wanted to write a book, but never started because you thought it’s too hard.
But you now know that you need to think smaller in order to stop the ‘overwhelm’ and start the work.
Think of that smaller increment and just start. Don’t even think of finishing it. Just begin.
3. Set a deadline – No matter what you would like to create, short article, long blog-post or huge book, always set a deadline.
Setting a deadline always puts you in a position of urgency. You begin to see progress and feel the anticipation of getting things done, one by one.
One thing you need to remember is you need to set a deadline which balances between being comfortable and not so comfortable that you skip one day or two.
Do it now: What you have just started out, set a deadline when you will achieve it in its complete form. Don’t hurry. Take your time and think in incremental terms. Once you set a deadline, ask yourself –
• Is it too comfortable?
• Is it too hard?
For both these questions, your answer should be – no. Then re-examine from there.
4. Now do the work – Excellence is what? Your commitment to your practice, every day, day after day, without skipping.
You need to think smaller, just get started and set a deadline in such a way that you have the fuel everyday to get started and do the work. It should not be so big, like one hour of writing or 45 minutes of exercise that you stop after few days.
Remember if you stop after few days your goal of accomplishing the thing will never get done.
So select the amount of time or words (if you are writing something) in such a way that you get comfortable to start every day for the stipulated period of time.
For example, I have started with exercise just about 5 minutes a day and since then more than 6 months passed and I have never missed a day. I’ve set a deadline of one year to get back in shape and I am on my way. You need to make sure that you can get anything done if you think smaller, begin without putting off, set a deadline and get started every day.
Do it now: Make 21 days box in your journal or use a calendar for reference. Every day when you finish your work, suppose 200 words for the book you are writing, cross the box off or the date off (if you are using a calendar).
5. Finish strong – There will be times when you feel de-motivated. But remember, you can’t miss two days in a row.
It’s the concept of doubling down. If you miss a day, no issues, start from the very next day. And if you miss two days in a row, chances are you will never start again.
So, never let that happen. Remember, commitment is the key. And you are working on your dreams, not on any unimportant thing.
Do it now: Create a page in your journal and write down 5 reasons why you want to achieve this dream or accomplish this project. These reasons will fuel your motivation when you are stuck and not able to get up. Keep your reasons in front of your eyes to get motivated every day. I will recommend, reading them out loud before beginning your practice. It works my friends.
Now to summarize the strategies, you need to follow this simple structure –
1. Think small. Think in increments, not one year, not even one month, but in one day segments.
2. Just begin. No more excuses. Your dream is yours, you have to take responsibility for you.
3. Set a deadline. Remember it should be a balance between too hard and too comfortable.
4. Do the work. Commit to your practice every day. Select the amount of work or time in such a way that you can begin every day.
5. Finish strong. Remember the concept of doubling down. If you miss two days in a row, probably you will never begin.
Hope this article will help you tame procrastination and get you started on whatever project or endeavor you choose to take and get done.
I wish you all the best. Cheers!
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