This month’s theme is procrastinating – and not just general procrastinating. More specifically not being able to start the thing that needs doing.
There can be lots of reasons why someone might put off starting.
- Maybe it’s a boring, onerous task.
- Maybe the effort it takes doesn’t seem worth the outcome.
- Maybe it brings up all sorts of bad feelings.
- Maybe it just seems too difficult.
And maybe there are lots of other, more fun and interesting things to steal your attention.
No matter what the reason, the problem is the same:
You’re not doing what needs to be done.
So how do you overcome this?
- If it’s just boring or difficult, the best trick is to break it down into small, manageable bits. Tell yourself you only have to do 5 minutes. It’s often getting started that is the hard bit. If you only have to do 5 minutes it makes it easier to start, and more often than not you’ll keep going. It’s rarely as bad as we think it will be (which you will soon discover if you just start).
- If the effort doesn’t seem worth the outcome, you can question why you’re doing it in the first place. Either it’s actually not worth doing or you have undervalued the outcome. Maybe it does mean more to you than you think. Look for what you have to gain and stay focused on that. If we have something that means something to us, it’s much easier to stay motivated.
- If there are a lot of negative emotions around doing the task there are a few things you can do. The most effective is to focus on the hopeful alternative to the negative. Let’s say you’re doing your resume. You’ve heard the job market is tough, you may not have the exact experience for the role, and you’re nervous about interviewing. All those bad feelings will be there when you sit down to write. But…if you keep focused on the hopeful things: maybe your skillset is actually desirable, and if not for this job, then maybe the next; maybe you’ll do better than you thought in the interview – you can always practice your interview skills too; maybe the job market isn’t as tough as it was the last time you had to apply for a job.
See how each statement isn’t a definite “this will happen” or something that doesn’t have a basis in reality? That’s what hopeful is. Your brain may not believe a ridiculously positive statement but it can get on board with a few positive maybes.
Obviously there are more ways to manage these but hopefully this will be enough to get you started.