Four Questions to Help You Overcome Procrastination
Procrastination is like a voice in your head that gives you several seemingly good reasons not to do something. It is usually difficult to find a counterargument to overcome. So instead of shouting down that voice telling you to put something off, why not ask him a question?
This post was originally published on Fast Company .
Sometimes a thorough self-assessment is a more effective way to stop procrastinating. The right questions can help you find practical solutions when you’re feeling stuck. It can heighten your sense of urgency and motivate you to take action. Here are four questions to keep in your back pocket the next time you hear that voice telling you to relax and wait.
1. What can I do to get started?
Sometimes we are faced with projects so large and overwhelming that we do not know where to start. Difficulty often leads to paralysis. But according to research by Dr. Tim Pichil , the hardest part is getting started. When you really start working on a task, it stops feeling as daunting or daunting as you imagined. What’s more, even if you don’t finish the job in one sitting, you will feel like you are in control once you get it done. This optimism gives you the momentum you need to get things done without limits.
By asking yourself what you can do to take that first meaningful step, you can start mentally breaking down the project into smaller subtasks and then picking the easiest one to start with. Once you start focusing on just that, you will probably have more motivation to keep working.
2. What are my top three priorities today?
We postpone until later, not only because we don’t want to do something unpleasant, but because we are overloaded with other work. Frivolous requests and distractions prevent us from focusing on what really matters, especially tasks that are important but not right away.
So, prioritize each morning. Ask yourself what three tasks – and they should be concrete actions , not vague goals like “make progress” – you need to solve today. Then commit yourself to them. Take the first few hours of your day and focus exclusively on them. Only when they are ready can you move on to another job.
3. How can I make it easier?
Many of us believe that it takes hard work to achieve anything – and often it does. But sometimes that belief gets in the way of finding simple solutions to big problems. There is no shame in making it easier for yourself to do something difficult.
For example, you may not have time to practice for an hour every day. So instead of skipping the gym entirely, start with 10 minutes of exercise every day. Of course, this may seem like a waste of time or an excuse at first. But something is better than nothing and it adds up. If you can’t get out for a run, just do a dot jog or a few push-ups at home. The key is to choose a simpler alternative and stick to it regularly.
Habit-forming expert C.J. Scott says the easiest way to develop a new habit is to start small: “You want to devote yourself to something so easy that you can’t skip a day,” he writes on his blog. Once you become consistent, it will be much easier for you to increase the duration.
Alternatively, you can simply delegate authority. Ask a team member to complete one or two routine tasks that will free up time and focus so that you can strike at what you have been putting off. Less upfront effort means less reason to procrastinate.
4. What will go wrong if I don’t do it now?
In his book, The Great One , Jim Collins writes about “productive paranoia.” He explains how highly successful people like Bill Gates and Andy Grove were always worried about something going wrong, so they channeled that fear into staying alert – always preparing, making contingency plans. and take action. Fear turns out to be an extremely powerful motivator, and gently provoking it can be an effective way to stop procrastinating.
Ask yourself how you might lose or suffer the consequences if you postpone further. And don’t just focus on immediate impact. Remind yourself strongly of the long-term consequences of procrastination, limited career opportunities, lack of money, poor health, or a broken relationship.
Of course, this may sound harsh. But it can be an effective way to remove a psychological obstacle. If a dose of fear can bring you back to your goals, isn’t it worth taking?
In fact, all successful people tend to procrastinate. The key is what steps you take to get started. And sometimes it’s all about asking the right questions.