Stop Procrastinating: It’s Not That Complicated

Photo Jigsaw pieceI experienced a huge breakthrough in my quest to stop procrastinating. It happened after I listened to my thoughts – and truly heard those thoughts – about repairs on my “To Do” list. I realized I was complicating simple tasks. Here’s how it went down:

On Sunday, November 20th I woke up with the intention of getting some things done around the house, many of which I’d put off for months.

I read the item, “Replace duct cap in yard’s northwest corner.” Then I heard, “Man, that will take forever and I want to play Just Dance 2 with my kid instead.”

I read the item, “Install hook and eye type ‘lock’ on pantry door.” Then I heard, “Man, that will take forever and I want to read instead.”

I read the item, “Prepare spring bulbs for winter storage.” And then, you guessed it, I heard the same over-exaggerated time to completion and what I’d rather be doing.

That’s when it hit me: I was putting off all these less-than-15 minute tasks because I perceived doing them right then and there would take up so much time I wouldn’t be able to do anything “fun” that day. When in reality not one of those repairs / maintenance would take me longer than 15 minutes (each) to complete.

Now, I thought I’d absorbed the idea of perception stunting focus and fueling procrastination back when I read Getting Things Done. But not until I actually caught myself in the act did I really get it. So I completed all six repair / maintenance items in under two hours. Not only that, I also completed the fall clean up / garden prep I’d wanted to do weeks earlier but kept putting off. You see, once I was in the act of doing, I didn’t want to stop. Forward motion and all that. Pretty cool, huh?

And wouldn’t you know it, that Monday, temps dropped and it rained. If I would’ve procrastinated on those items, even just one more day, the work would’ve been a lot more muddy (and cold!) and a lot less fun.

Here’s my two cents: When you find yourself reading (and re-reading) your “To Do” list, really tune into your self-talk. What do you hear? What reasons are there for not doing that thing right then? Are they factual reasons? Or simply made up excuses? Don’t let yourself off the hook either; dig into what you’re telling yourself, and why.

I’ve been doing this the last few weeks, and it’s working! Whenever I hear myself saying, “Ahh, I can do that tomorrow,” or “I need to do that,” I ask myself why I can’t do it right then. If the answer is a load of malarkey then I do the task straight away.

Obviously certain tasks and projects cannot be done the moment you think of them but many can, even if it’s just the first step. For example, “Get new tires” has been on my list since summer. But it wasn’t until I took the first step, “make calls for price quotes,” that I made progress. And on Saturday, December 10th I marked “Get new tires” off my list.

Remember, most things are not as complicated as we – our thoughts – make them out to be. If we can stop that Inner Drama Queen (or King) from blowing things out of proportion there will be a much higher tendency to do that thing today instead of tomorrow or next week or when we have more time to think about the “best” way.

Photo credit: Rphotos

4 Comments:

  1. Have you been talking to my husband? He’s always telling me I complicate things too much. Yes, I hang my head in shame. I know it’s true. (But does he have to know I know? I think not.)

    Good idea. I’ll try it.

    • Talking to my mom today I heard her doing the same thing. So that makes at least three of us 😉

      I tell you what, our minds are powerful and usually underestimated: it’s wonderful to have an active imagination with all its freedoms and possibilities; but, that same imagination can also be a prison, keeping us from what we truly want to do, right now, in the “real” world. Crazy, isn’t it?!

  2. I agree that if we do something the moment we think of it it feels much better. I hate it when I feel as though something is hanging over me. The other day my mum called and wanted me to look something up for her. She said it was no hurry, but I know her idea of “no hurry” and I couldn’t bear to have her asking multiple times if I’d done this yet.. (Oh I’d been down that road many times…lol) So I stopped what I was doing, got her the information and it did feel good to know I wasn’t going to be asked about it again and again. Whether someone else prods us about the unfinished things or if we do it to ourselves, it usually has the same end results–us wishing we had got up off our butts and did it.

    Truthfully, I’m not much of a list maker. I don’t know why even though I’ve found making lists helps. I guess I procrastinate when it comes to actually making the list. Sheesh!

    • Hi Laura!

      Yes, doing feels wonderful.

      Without lists my head would be so full of the what’s and the how’s that I wouldn’t have any room left for the what if’s and what about’s (aka creativity). “No list”-ers like yourself amaze me.

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