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Six Tips For Getting Shit Done When You Feel Like Procrastinating
I’ll tell you one of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to my career. I’m a perfectionist procrastinator. When I don’t feel very inspired to do a particular task, or I want to put off the task for another reason, I procrastinate with research and prep work to make myself feel productive, all the while getting nothing done.
This form of procrastination is far more insidious than your typical TV watching, chip-crunching style of putting things off. Because each time I procrastinate in this way, I convince myself that it is for my own good.
My reasoning follows that I must research more to prepare for X, when I know deep down my current knowledge will do just fine. Or I tell myself I need to clean the house before I can start Y, because the reality is that I don’t want to do Y and cleaning up will make me feel productive.
"Everyone must choose one of two pains- The Pain of Discipline, or the Pain of Regret."
After indulging such bad habits, I often come to the end of my work session having done lots of reading and internet surfing, with no actual work done to show for it.
What a bummer! If you’ve ever been in the same place, you know it isn’t a good feeling.
That nagging voice in the back of your head never lets up, and the guilt rises as you tell yourself that you’ll get started tomorrow for sure. Except tomorrow never comes.
How to Start Taking Action Today
When you are trying to change careers and start your own business, the most important thing is ACTION. Analysis paralysis is the ultimate dream killer, and you must muster up the strength to avoid it at all costs.
Doing more research and thinking even more about your plan isn’t likely to help you. This is one of the most important lessons I learned early on in business.
You don’t know what you don’t know until you get started, meaning that you will discover all the little things you must research and act upon as they come up in your work. To get there, you need to take the next step.
In any quest in life, the people who succeed are the ones who take consistent action over the long haul. Note that I didn’t say the winners are always the smartest, or the most unique, or even the most innovative.
They are the people who put in the work day after day, long after the project has lost its luster and a weekend off is sounding like a really good idea. So how can you get started and follow through when the work of your dreams doesn’t seem so rosy?
Tip #1. Wake Up Before Everyone Else
As hard as it is, I wake up at 5:30am and start my day with a workout, some healthy breakfast, and then I get straight to work. With an infant who naps little and a husband who is at work during the week, this is the time I have to make my work time count.
If you are a night owl, maybe you can work in the evening instead. The point is to find a time and stick to it. Don’t give in to the feeling of it being hard. You can choose to lament and procrastinate, or you can choose to get it done.
Tip #2. Let Your First Draft Be Terrible
One common thing us perfectionists do is critique our work so heavily in the early stages of production that we fail to finish in a timely manner. It can be tough if this isn’t your natural inclination, but let your first draft suck.
The whole point is to get everything out of your brain on paper (or however it applies to your work), and then go back and tweak it.
This will not only ensure that you finish the task, but it will give you the opportunity to use your creative streak while it’s hot, and then go back to check it at another time.
This works especially well for me since I often lose my groove if I’m interrupted or have to end early, but if I’ve finished the creative part I can come back in a different frame of mind to edit and revise.
You must have a clear and compelling vision for your work, or you simply won’t put in the hours. https://bit.ly/2vV6s4u
Tip #3. Have Everything You Need In Order Before Getting Started
How many times have you sat down to work, and then realized you need your other notebook, and then a glass of water, and then your USB drive, and so on. For me, it used to happen constantly until I got organized.
Think of the task ahead and determine exactly what you will need to get started, no more and no less. Then round up all of your supplies and get started. Another great tactic is to get your things in order the night before, so you’re all set when work time comes around.
Tip #4. Ask For Uninterrupted Time
If you have a spouse, or a spouse and children, you’ll find it crucial to get some uninterrupted work time. With something so important as working towards your dream career, you MUST advocate for yourself.
This isn’t something that will hopefully happen when you get the time. It is something you need to make time for, ask for some quiet space, and then get started without delaying.
If you live on your own, finding uninterrupted time may mean leaving your phone in another room, placing time restrictions on your computer so you can’t be tempted to play on social media, and not answering the door during work time.
There are a ton of apps you can download to help keep you on track. Do a bit of research to figure out which one will work best for you. Here are a few options:
- Freedom (Mac, Windows, Android)
- StayFocusd (Google Chrome extension)
- SelfControl (mac)
- Write Room (mac)
Tip #5. Write Tomorrow's To Do List Tonight
One tip that worked super well for me early on in my self employed life was to write the next days to do list each night. I also write a weekly to do list every Sunday. This helps me sit down to work knowing exactly what I need to do (so I don’t “think about it” while checking my email).
It’s also really important for establishing priorities. In my life, there are a ton of things that need to be done. So many that not all of them are going to get done in a given day, which means it’s even more important to write out my to do list in order of priority.
This ensures that the most important things get done and the little “nice to haves” get checked off as there is time.
Tip #6. Write Your Vision Statement And Review It Everyday Before Sitting Down To Work
This is a tip I’ve started doing recently to keep my brain focused on the end goal. With an infant, and having moved to a new city, I find that my brain is often scattered and I sit down to work and sometimes forget WHY I’m doing what I’m doing. Has this ever happened to you?
So, I wrote down my vision for this blog and for my life, and I review it daily. This keeps me from ever wondering why I should keep going, or what my purpose is with the work I’m doing.
Remember Why Your Dream Is So Important To You
I would honestly say that vision is the single most important thing you must have to create the work of your dreams. Even more than action (as much as it pains me to say so!), because without vision your actions will be jumbled and go nowhere.
Your vision for your career and your life is what compels you to work. Without this picture in your mind, you won’t decide to do anything. Everything we do is propelled by it. Where we go, who we see, and the things we buy are all determined by this picture we have of how we want our lives to be.
When it comes to your work, you MUST have a clear and compelling vision to drive you, or you simply won’t put in the hours. Vision is in your mind’s eye. What is the picture in your mind when you think of doing your dream work? How do you live each day, how do you feel, where are you? What does your life look like?
One method for solidifying your vision that I highly recommend is to create a vision board. Typically a vision boards is a simple tack board where you can post inspiring images and quotes that you refer to often for a boost of mental stamina and drive. Your office or bedroom is a great place to hang it. Anywhere you will see your board daily will help you to work towards your goals.
Now that I’ve given you some tips and techniques for making progress on your dream career, take action! The worst thing you can do at this point is do nothing. Figure out one thing you can do right now to further your work, and then do it.
Once you’ve done that, let’s chat in the comments below! What is the one big fear or setback that keeps you from working on your dream each day?
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