Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases. It is opportunity’s assassin and it kills by stealth. Often you don’t realise you’ve caught it. Before you know it, procrastination has stolen your day and another opportunity has been slaughtered.
The incredible thing about procrastination is that even when you know you’ve caught it, you’re still happy to let it continue doing its work. You lie to yourself and say it’s okay, you’ll do it tomorrow and that what you were doing instead was important.
But the truth is you’re just putting things off and that’s why so many people are further ahead than you. It’s not that they’re smarter or luckier than you. It’s because they’ve found a way to make themselves take that action that you choose to put off.My evil genius Procrastination has whispered me to tarry 'til a more convenient season. - Mary Lincoln Click To Tweet
It’s time to stop putting things off and get more done. That’s the subject of today’s Tips and Tricks video.
Transcript – Stop Putting Things Off
Is there something you keep putting off? Maybe it’s make a phone call, get your bookkeeping up to date or put together some kind of presentation. Whatever it is today is the day to stop putting it off!
In this tips and tricks video I’ll be showing you three ways to stop procrastinating and get things done.
Hi. I’m Clive Maloney, founder of small business coach at Get Real About Business.
Why People Procrastinate
So is there something that you keep putting off? Well, the chances are if you are putting it off it’s because there’s some level of discomfort or fear around it. What tends to happen is that we bid our time. We think I’ll deal with this when I’m in a better place or a better state of mind to be able to deal with something.
But the truth is what you’re doing is putting it off and giving yourself time to make it even bigger and scarier than it was. I mean if you think about it, how many times have you worried about something? Maybe even laid awake at night? Perhaps it’s to have a conversation with somebody at work and you’ve worried and worried. You imagine all the things that might go wrong and then when you have that conversation it was never as bad as you thought it would be.
Fear is deceptive. It’s False Expectations Appearing Real. We make things bigger and uglier than they ever need to be and sometimes we even set ourselves to fail because we expect the worst of others.
So what you need to do is stop putting things off and here are a few things to do to get things done…
Dealing with Big Projects
The first thing is if it’s something big what you need to do is to break it down into smaller chunks. Let’s suppose that one of the things that you’ve got to do is to deliver a presentation. So what we tend to do is we picture ourselves standing up there and how nervous we would be if we were delivering that presentation. Rather than think about the end goal the thing to do is to break it down into small chunks and then just focus on one chunk at a time, because let’s face it your not ready to deliver that presentation until you’ve got it ready.
So maybe the first thing is to think about what your audience wants. What are the questions the audience might have around your particular topic? What concerns do they have? What would they like to know? What do they need to know?
Doing that will get you to that stage where you’ve got some broad title and a few topics that you want to talk about. So that may be your first logical step. The next step might be to start fleshing out those things so that you can talk in more detail about it.
What you do is take your big plan and break it down into bite-size chunks and focus on one chunk at a time.
New and Difficult Projects
It may be that it’s something you’ve never done before and you’re not too sure about how to go about doing something. Well of course it makes sense to go and speak to those people who do know, but if you can’t do that maybe what you need to do is just make a start.
Sometimes when you make a start, whatever it is, the next logical step seems to come. So you just make your way through it almost organically, but just focusing on one step at a time. Some action is better than no action.
When we’re fearful of something what tends to happen is that we have a lot of negative self-chatter. We say things to ourselves like, “Oh, you tripped over that chair last time. It was awful! It might go wrong.” We have all this negative self-chatter in our heads.
What you don’t want to do is to deny that chatter. It’s a bit like me saying, “Don’t think of a pink duck.” Well of course what do you think of? You think of a pink duck. The more you try to avoid thinking about something, the more you focus on it.
Imagine for a moment that you have a conference room in your head. In that conference room there is a big table and around that table is a number of chairs. On each one of those chairs is a person with a voice. A little mini you with a voice.
Some of those voices are helpful some of those voices are not. The fact is each one of those voices has an intention for you. They want to protect you. They want to nurture you. They want to help you in some way, but some of those voices hold you back. They’re not intelligent voices. They’re just reactive voices.
Many of them are fear based, so rather than deny those voices and try not to hear them what you need to do is acknowledge them and then decide which voices you do want to hear. So when you hear all this negative self-chatter, I think it’s useful to say to yourself, “Thanks for sharing”, and then you decide what you are giong to think about instead. So,”Thanks for sharing”, and then you think about something more positive.
Eat that Frog
As I said, when you put things off things tend to have a habit of getting worse and they get bigger and uglier. As Brian Tracy says, you need to learn to eat that frog. What you do is you imagine all the tasks you’ve got to do as a number of different frogs. Those ugly ones are the ones that you tend to put off. Those big horrible and ugly tasks that you really don’t like the taste of – you put it off.
What you need to do is to learn to eat your frog first thing every day. What you do is pick the dirtiest, most ugliest looking frog and eat that first. Otherwise what will happen is that you will think, “Ok I’ll get that done this afternoon.” Maybe get some things done straight away that are nice and easy, because that sets you up for a nice day.
Well, the truth is that it doesn’t. It just puts it off and it gets bigger and uglier. If you start things off by getting the worst things done first then you feel great. You feel you have already conquered it right at the beginning of the day and that you are on a role so you could go on to do other things
Sometimes we need to be courageous, so whatever the things are that you tend to put off, get it done first thing at the beginning of the day and you set yourself up for success for the rest of the day.
The 60-Second Rule
Speaking of courage; something else you can do is called the 60-second rule. I love this one!
When you get to that moment when you come across something that’s a little uncomfortable and you would normally put it off a little bit, have the guts and the courage to do what you know you should within the first 60 seconds.
You see the longer we put it off, as we mentioned before, the longer you put it off the bigger and worse it gets. So get it done within the first 60 seconds and yes, it’s a little bit uncomfortable but the great news is you only have to be brave for another 60 seconds.
It’s the getting going that’s the hardest. Maybe it’s to speak to a customer about a late payment. You’re a bit uncomfortable about it, but actually once you’ve picked the phone call up and you start that conversation, don’t you find it gets easier? It’s just the first 60 seconds that are difficult and then everything gets easier.
That’s the 60-second rule: Do what you know you should. Have the guts and the courage to do what you know you should within the first 60 seconds and you only need to be brave for about 60 seconds.
Those are some things you can do to get things done.
Non Fear Based Tasks
And if there is something that is on your list but you never get round to doing, but it is not fear-based; then maybe it’s just something you don’t really see as important. If that’s the case just strike it off your list and ditch it completely. Maybe it’s something you’ll never get round to doing or perhaps the time will come and then you can put it back on the list.
Whatever the case is, when that list is really, really long with lots of things that you need to do. That’s a lot of pressure for you. Either get it done or ditch it!
If you’ve got any thoughts or comments of your own about how to get yourself to take action then I’d love to hear them. Please put your comments and thoughts in the comment box below. I promise to read them and get back to you.
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