Six ways to stop procrastinating and finally get things done

There's nothing more aggravating than knowing there's something that needs to be done, to obsess about it constantly but not actually do it.

I’m guilty of this too. Personal projects are the first to bear the brunt of this. I postpone taking action by telling myself there’s more thinking to be done, the conditions aren’t ideal, I’m too tired to concentrate and so on and so forth.

Not surprisingly, my to-do list gets clogged up with overdue projects week after week and I feel worse. You'd think that I would finally get going now that the things on my list are long overdue. But no! It's back to another cycle of worry and regret.

I’ve done this dance long enough to see some patterns emerge.

Here are six techniques (3 internal devices and 3 external ones) to use when you’re procrastinating on a task for unreasonably long periods of time:

Internal devices:

  1. Look at your hands — this one’s exactly what it says on the tin. Whenever you’re stressing about not having done something but you’re sitting there not feeling quite ready to do it, look at your hands. What is the one thing you can do with your hands to start this task? Write down the steps? Make a phone call? Google something about it? Do just that with your hands. The biggest hurdle to completing something is the inertia of getting started from a state of rest. If you can start something, you’re likely to push yourself to finish it.

External devices:

  1. Recruit your friends to keep you accountable — A little intense, but try announcing your projects to friends and ask them to police you. For instance, I wanted to write more regularly, so I told my friends of my intention to do so. When I fell off the wagon, they had every right to ask me why I was slacking off. In fact, every time I texted them I was compelled to make sure that I’d done something about the goal before they asked about it. Or if you plan to wake up early every day, let your friends know the latest time before which you should fall asleep and ask them to check on you if they suspect that you’re breaking your own rules. Not only does this make for some fun conversations but you will feel like you’re being supported by people who want you to succeed.

It only takes a little effort to put these techniques into practice. While these techniques might get you started on the journey to becoming more productive, you will have to find ways to keep the flames burning. To learn how to do this, click here.

Before you go, think of one project that has been on your to do list for way too long now and pick one of the techniques listed above to take the first step towards completing it.

Remember, don't have to boil the ocean, just throw the first pebble into the river before you.

Start that ripple.

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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