Finding time to stop procrastinating is one of the best time management skills that you can ever develop for yourself. And it’s a challenge … for all of us.
It doesn’t do you much good to let your inner critic try to goad you into action when you find yourself procrastinating. In fact, this will often lead to increased stress and, perhaps, the introduction of your “inner rebel” to the conversation. It’s a great recipe for digging your heels in even deeper, and coming to a virtual standstill.
But think about it: you don’t even know that you’re procrastinating unless you have some goals. So, the good news is if you know you’re stuck, it’s because you know where you want to go or what you want to do.
But getting from where you are to where you want to be involves effort. Effort is work. It means an investment of your time and energy. And when you invest effort, you expect and want to reap some kind of reward.
So, in some very basic ways, I think that one major source of procrastination can be the size of the gap between the effort and the reward. The larger the gap, the more likely you are to be challenged by procrastination.
If you have a really big task to do, something that is going to take days, weeks or even months to finish, when will you begin to see the benefits of your work? It can require skill and discipline to get started on a task like that … when the reward is so far in the distance that you need a telescope to see it!
But the good news is that you can build in your own rewards! You can do this by the way you structure your task, the ways that you remind yourself about it, and what you say to yourself when you’ve completed each step.
Chunking tasks down into bite sized pieces is a fundamental component of any attempt to overcome procrastination and begin to make headway on your goals. Chunking is a time management skill that gives you stepping stones and stopping places (where you can give yourself pats on the back along the way).
Basically, what chunking does is narrow the gap between your effort and your reward.
So, the next time you find yourself procrastinating about something, grab a piece of paper and write down the task at the top. Then create at least 5 stepping stones to get yourself to your goal. Make the first step a small one. Then DO IT … as soon as you have finished writing down your steps. (If you can’t do it immediately, be sure to schedule a specific time, and then follow through on your commitment.)
Notice how your energy changes and the impossible begins to feel possible! Chunking and creating stepping stones are the key. Then whenever you invest effort be sure that you validate yourself with some sort of reward, be it a kind word, a break, or something else that appeals to you.
And are you inspired to find time and increase your effectiveness, efficiency and enjoyment? What will be the first step that you take to start chunking and stop procrastinating?© Copyright 2011 Paula Eder, Ph.D.