How to Finally Get It Done
I have a confession to make. I am a procrastinator. I can find a reason to do just about anything other than the tasks I dread. For example, I should be getting a mailing out right now, but I am writing this article. However, I recently completed a ton of tasks I had been putting off. How I did it may help the rest of you procrastinators.
1.) Just start. That’s it – just get started. Pick up one stack to sort or one drawer to clean out. Just take one step on your new walking program. If you’re like me, once I get started, it’s game on.
2.) Hire someone else to do it. Seriously. I pay someone to clean my house and it is the best money I spend. I don’t want to spend my time cleaning, but I don’t want to live in a dirty house. Let’s say paying someone isn’t an option for you. No problem – just find out what it would cost to pay someone, then next time you find yourself putting it off, think, “If I get this done it will save me $75.” You’ll either be motivated to do it or you’ll write the check.
3.) Let go of perfection. I believe (and we do lie best when we lie to ourselves) that my procrastination is linked to my perfectionism. I feel that if I can’t do something right (i.e. perfect), I shouldn’t do it at all. So when I think about the database entry, I think I don’t have time to do it all, so I do nothing. And a 15 minute job accumulates into a five hour job and all my leads are cold. Better to do it halfway than not do it at all. Better to walk one mile than zero. Better to have half the laundry folded than none. And go back to number one – once you start, you often finish. Perfectionism is idiotic. (And yes, I am working on being less of an idiot.)
This is another reason why people don’t delegate or hire others. Many women tell me they won’t hire someone to clean their homes because that person wouldn’t do the job as well as they would. Okay – if you want to spend your life cleaning your baseboards, rock on! I’ll be out enjoying my life.
4.) Trick yourself. I got a lot of this done because I fooled myself into thinking it was fun. I sat at my desk, lit some candles, put on some TV shows I like and did data entry for hours. Hey – see number three – we lie best when we lie to ourselves. Tell yourself going through all that junk you’ve been hoarding will be fun! Whee!!! Or find a way to make it fun for you – invite a friend over to help you with your closet or promise yourself a reward when you’re finished. Bribe yourself!
5.) Create urgency. I wanted to get stuff donated before the end of the year to help reduce my taxes, so I cleaned out closets. Maybe you have a birthday coming up and you don’t want to spend another year in your current state. If you can set some kind of goal or deadline, this will help.
6.) Dump it all. Maybe there are stacks in your office or a bunch of junk in your garage. Get a box (or boxes or trash bags) and just pitch it all. If you are not using that stuff, get rid if it! If that’s too drastic, date the boxes – if you didn’t need anything out of then in a year – for God’s sake – THROW THEM AWAY! If it’s a hobby or a craft project or a piece of exercise equipment – be honest with yourself – use the damn thing or toss it. Here people start thinking, but I spent $250 on that! Yep – then try to sell it on Ebay, because that money is gone, baby and it ain’t coming back. Most of the time your old junk really is just junk. For all the time it might take to sell it, you’d be better off just taking it to Goodwill and writing it off.
7.) Multitask – maybe. Depending on the task, multitasking might help or it might harm. If it’s reading, I can go through a lot of stuff while I ride the stationary bike. I feel like I’m getting some exercise AND accomplishing something. I love it! But sometimes trying to multitask derails me. Deactivating my e-mail alert was a huge time saver – no distraction, more focus, more execution. Every interruption slows you down dramatically.
8.) Think of the consequences. If I don’t update my database I lose touch with my clients and that can cost me money. If you don’t go through those stacks on your desk, you look disorganized and lose credibility. If you have chaos in your e-mail inbox, you may miss opportunities or appear unreliable. If nothing else, clutter saps your energy and wastes your time. Take control.
Try a couple of these – I’m telling you from the other side, when you finally get the task done, it will take much less time than you thought and you’re going to feel a lot better about yourself. Now I need to get that mailing out.