Even the most motivated of people will find themselves putting things off. Maybe it’s that presentation you have to do for next week, or perhaps it’s tidying the garage. Either way it’s not getting done.
Generally speaking we don’t start things because the thought of doing them feels more overwhelming than the thought of not doing them. Eventually of course we reach the night before the presentation or are struggling to find anything in our garage and our hand is forced. Often however, with great stress involved.
So how can you break the cycle?
Open a loop!
Every time we start a new activity our brain opens a loop which doesn’t get closed until the task is finished. Your mind will keep nudging you to finish what you started as long as the loop remains open. So if you want to get something done the best thing you can do is simply get started. Commencing the process will greatly increase the likelihood of you finishing it.
Just do five minutes
Of course you may be thinking “but that’s the whole problem, I can’t get started”. So how can you nudge yourself to take that first step?
A great way to break the paralysis is limiting the amount of time you commit to spend on it. If you’re tackling something that feels overwhelming you are less likely to get started because it is BIG. If however, you tell yourself “I only have to do ten minutes” it feels more achievable.
Set yourself a timer for a set period and just do as much as you can. Because the brain responds to urgency (artificial or not) you will not only be amazed at what you achieve in that short timeframe but having now opened that important loop you’re much more likely to keep going.
Another way to boost the likelihood of you doing something is to schedule it into your diary. By choosing a date and time, and putting it in writing you are making a mental commitment to getting the task done. As the saying goes “if it’s not in your calendar it doesn’t exist”. Rather than have a to-do list, allocate the task time in your diary.
Put it into action
To get started why not take a few minutes right now to jot down the things you need to get done and consider which ones you can schedule, what the first step is for each and what ones you could put 5 or 10 minutes work into right now.
You will be amazed how quickly you can break the cycle of procrastination.