Tomorrow’s Another Day
I’ve been meaning to get around to writing about procrastination, but I’ve been busy avoiding it. It’s not easy being a procrastinator- you have to come up with lots of reasonably believable excuses to minimize the guilt. But at 3AM the guilt wakes you up and keeps you up! The stress of being a procrastinator can kill you. So what can you do about it? There are tons of ideas. Make a to-do list. Put the task you’re avoiding at the top of the list. Me, I write a new to-do list at the end of the day listing all the things I actually did, which very rarely includes that ONE DREADED THING. The task you’re avoiding seems to grow in size, complexity, and difficulty until the mere thought of it sends you staggering to your knees.
So is there anything you can do? One of the perks of my job is the tremendous amount of great ideas and success stories I hear from workshop participants. I feel like a conduit through which all these ideas get passed forward. One of the best was: You Can Do Anything for 15 Minutes. You commit to working on something for 15 minutes, with a timer and a reward at the “ding”. You start, knowing you only have to do this for 15 minutes. At the end of the time, a few different things will happen. You will stop, with relief. And with the satisfaction of knowing that the task is now 15 minutes shorter. And that you really started it. Maybe you’ll chip away at it for a multitude of 15-minute segments. Each time, it will get smaller. Eventually, it will get done. Or you may find yourself on such a roll, with a real burst of sustained adrenaline that you decide to keep at it. Just be sure to set the timer for another 15 minutes. You get a mental reward every time it goes off.
This works at work and at home. Junk drawers, attics, garages, family pictures are as intimidating as that report or article you need to write. I keep timers in multiple places. And here’s a big plus! The first thing you get to do is what you probably do now when you are putting off starting a project. You go buy supplies! Yes, the first thing you need to do is get in your car and go buy timers. Isn’t it fun?
It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In our case, it begins with a timer and 15 minutes.