So you don’t want to do it right now.
There’s always tomorrow. Maybe I’ll wait until after lockdown number X… Maybe you are just waiting for some enthusiasm or energy to kick in (understandable, given what we’ve all been through). But the underlying question remains: if you don’t want to do right now, will you ever actually want to do to it later? It’s definitely possible, as energy, fatigue, and interest level can be major motivation factors. The current situation and the uncertainty surrounding us is also a big factor (and useful excuse); but truth be told, the answer could just be “no”.
With not enough time left to spare and your anxiety on overload, you’ll finally get it done by the skin of your teeth – because you have to. Finally, it’s done! Success. But it’s not really the good kind. And now you’re tired and a little mad. Mad at the world. Mad at your boss for making you do the thing in the first place. And, at the bottom of that barrel, mad at yourself for not having met your own standard and done it sooner.
The good news is, it really doesn’t have to be this way. It still will once in a while— life happens— but on the whole, it doesn’t have to. Here are 5 tangible ways you can help yourself stop functioning on buffer.
Tip 1. Create a final deadline and break it down with a schedule of mini-deadlines.
It doesn’t have to be super picky or detailed. Write the deadlines down somewhere, and do your best to stick to each element of your timeline.
Life hack: Set your final deadline for a bigger project a day or two before it’s due so it’s done in plenty of time for any last-minute issues that might arise (It’s like setting your clock 5 mins fast).
Tip 2. Use positive AND negative incentives.
Positive incentives: If I tackle A today, I’ll treat myself to my favourite fancy coffee drink instead of plain coffee when I’m done or once I finish Project B, I’ll take a personal day and binge old movies on Disney+ in my pyjamas.
Negative incentives: I’m going to do B right now, so I don’t have to do A.
It’s pretty much pitting procrastination against something else you don’t want to do.
It works, but be careful not to do it all the time otherwise you’ll never get A done. Our brains are hardwired to respond to incentives. Use them to your advantage!
Tip 3. Take brain breaks.
You’re not a robot. Get up and move around. Disconnect entirely for at least a few minutes each hour. You can even hop around a little bit to different projects to keep your interest peaked— as long as you hit your marks by the end of the day/work time.
Tip 4. Set clear boundaries for your work time AND your playtime.
If you feel like your playtime is respected and protected, it makes committing during your work hours feel like much more of a choice and less of a burden. It also makes playtime that much more fun, well earned, and guilt-free!
Tip 5. Tell someone about your goals and bigger deadlines.
Get them on the group calendar or send them to a friend or co-worker, and let people help keep you accountable. Other people are arguably the best support resource there is!
If you don’t want to get to it all at once, don’t stress. Just pick the one that seems the most doable and incorporate that one thing now. It’s worth noting the hard truth about procrastination here. Somewhere, deep down, you may not actually want to do the thing you’re tasked with doing, ever. If this is the case, dig deep and think about why. Is barreling through something(s) you don’t want to do worth it to serve a bigger goal? If it’s not, start thinking about what you can do to take steps toward making your current situation a desirable one or moving toward something you actually want to be doing.
Every job or task is going to have it’s lousy parts, but if you are doing something you like, gives you a sense of purpose, and/or are generally fulfilled by, it becomes much easier to slog through the sucky parts. On the flip side, if it’s just something you have to do and aren’t/haven’t, then rip the band-aid and get it done! It’ll sting for a second, but it’ll make you feel much better about your life and yourself in the long run.
This article was originally published here on The Astonishing Tales digital magazine on January 17th 2020.