In all the years I have been working with people who want to accelerate their achievement levels, I am always amazed at just how many of them, myself included, will get caught up in a cycle of procrastination from time to time.
So what is procrastination?
Basically, procrastination is the non-action of putting off an essential task until a later time (usually until it is too late).
The symptoms of procrastination may include staring at our computer screens and chatting to people on Facebook during prime productivity hours. Often folk will busily fill time doing nothing of consequence or dither and dally through the day as a way of justifying not getting down to the critical tasks that need to get done.
Although this definition of procrastination seems pretty simple, the effects of it are not. Overcoming procrastination is a battle that many people lose, and if you are stuck in a procrastination spiral, it may feel like the biggest obstacle to your progress that you have every faced. The saddest part of this unproductive cycle is it just doesn’t have to happen!
So what can you so to get over the slump?
Recently I came across an old book that outlines 3 stunningly simple ways to sidestep procrastination. The ideas are presented by Linda Schaumleffel’s in her book “HOW TO SUCCEED. GUARANTEED! THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL Schaumleffel’s says that:
“If you have lost productivity and can’t find the energy or oomph to get going again, chances are you are missing one of these three crucial productivity points”.
The good news is that you can put an end to your problem right now. Simply follow the easy steps she has outlined here. Take then one step at a time and you will be well on the road to becoming energised and productive once again
STEP ONE – FIRST ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION
We often procrastinate because the job at hand looks mammoth. The sheer size or complexity of the task can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stuck. In this mindset even the answer to the question “how do you eat a mammoth?” is too much to cope with. When you think of “one bite at a time”, the notion of tasking hundreds of of steps still stops you in your tracks. So here is the first simple key – Ask yourself:
“what one step or action can I do now to move forward?”
In the end, every step, no matter how small, counts. So doing just one small step is a great start. Just one step.
I have to confess I have a very flexible and curious mind. In my enthusiasm to get the most out of like I have had a tendency to take on more than I can chew, believing that I had all the time and stamina required to get things done. As a consequence I have stressed and disappointed myself and others by trying to get too much done in too little time with spare resources.
One of the many wisdoms that has helped me to sidestep that destructive habit is a Chinese saying that I took to heart. It has served me very well over the past few years.
Never be afraid of growing slowly. Only be afraid of standing still“
So when faced with feeling of overwhelm and spinning on your heels, simply STOP trying to achieve everything at once. Take a deep breath and ask yourself “what one step can I do now to move forward?” Wait quietly for the answer and them immediately take that micro-step.
How easy was that?
STEP TWO – THE RIGHT TIMING
Life is like golf. When you give yourself too much time to think the task becomes ominous. So focus on the one step.
Take the pressure of yourself, you don’t have to get it right; your aim is simply to make progress, to move from a stuck state of inaction to a fluid state of getting it going.
Focus totally on that one task. The truth is despite the myth of multi-tasking, we can only really do one thing at a time, so why not just give it your full attention for as long as it takes to complete it – before you know it the task will be finished. IN the meantime there is no need to think about what do do next. Just stay present, composed and complete.
STEP THREE – THE RIGHT LIST
Finally, be proud of your “I got it done” pile.
Isn’t it true that we are all experts at creating to do lists but often they become never ending burdens of work reminding us of our failure to get things done. The problem with a TO DO list is that we do not see our progress because we have not reached the end goal.
We don’t see that the end result is an accumulation of micro-tasks all linked together to make a whole and get us across the finish line.
Linda Schaumleffel’s inspiration is to make an ‘I Got It Done’ book, and to record and acknowledge each step that you complete. This small trick is a spark of genius. The idea is that as you complete the micro-tasks you fill the pages with self-acknowledgment until the task (or the book) is completed.
After all every journey starts with one step, and one small step after another toward your big goal is undeniably PROGRESS.
The ‘I Got It Done’ book is evidence of your progress. I added an extra step here and for every 10 pages i filled I allowed myself a small celebration. Celebrations are always happy, satisfying and energizing. What a different feeling you get from an ‘I Got It Done’ book. So much rewarding than striking off items in your burdensome, unforgiving and never ending to do list.
So to recap:
- Ask the right question to find the next step
- Focus on the micro-step until it’s done
- Fill in your ‘I Got It Done’ book and celebrate tiny wins
So that’s it! Three self empowering techniques that when combined in sequence will build energy, excitement, joy and lasting habits that make staying in action as easy as flying on autopilot.
I can assure you from my own experience putting this into practice that as you see the results growing you will find yourself in a committed, motivated, quietly focused and forward looking state of mind, being drawn forward by your own momentum.
Once you have your energy flowing again you can increase your productivity further by creating a Success Team that encourages accountability and acknowledgment. Participate in it regularly and watch your productivity explode!
Now that’s what I can success.
This article was inspired by and in collaboration with Author and Olympic athlete Linda Schaumleffel
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