It’s important to not let your mind wander by trying to analyze why you’re stuck and why you’re putting it off. If you find yourself experiencing anxiety, do your best to ignore these negative and debilitating thoughts. Instead, focus on breaking the project up into small, manageable parts.
This helps get the ball rolling and reduces the size of the task (and the accompanying emotional baggage) so it immediately becomes more doable. Start with something small and then move on to the next step.
This requires that you ignore several things:
- Your mind: Don’t try to understand why you want to procrastinate. Resist the temptation to figure it out. If you get started on small chunks of the project, you’ll have plenty of time and energy to analyze it afterwards.
- Your emotions: Don’t let feelings interfere with focusing on a task. Self-doubt, resentments, and insecurities are typical, but it ultimately doesn’t matter. Remember that motivational slogan, “Just do it?” When you focus on getting some aspect of the task done, you’ll find your emotions naturally taking a back seat.
- The clock and the calendar: Don’t pressure yourself by thinking about how little time is left. When you start breaking down a project into small steps, you’ll discover how much time is realistically required. We sometimes have a poor conception of how much time it requires to complete a task. Rather than panicking at the thought that you only have a week to complete a project, break down the parts of the task into real time and you may find through this process that it is merely a three-hour job.
- Your stress: There are a number of techniques one can use to deal with anxiety: deep breathing, progressive relaxation, visualization, physical exercise, meditation, humor and music. Engage in these after you’ve already completed a part of the task. In fact, you can use some of these activities as a reward for partial task completion.
- Distractions: Turn off all music, TV, cell phones and the Internet, and try not eating or drinking until you get going. If caffeine helps, fine, but preparing it can also provide an excuse from actually working. Too much coffee can make you easily distractible. You want to become narrowly focused on your goal completion, so avoid letting anything interfere or slow you down.
- Excuses: The mind is amazingly clever at times, and it will sometimes sabotage what you really want. Let’s face it, we humans have competing commitments, priorities, and multiple demands. If you find yourself coming up with good reasons to procrastinate, remember that good reasons make for good excuses, but they’re still excuses and will stop you from doing what’s needed and what’s important. For example, “I’m not in the mood for this,” can be reframed as, “I’m not in the mood, but if I start with one small part, I’ll get inspired.”
Part three: Motivation