One of the most difficult aspects of getting anything done is getting started. Procrastination can be a very difficult obstacle to overcome and unless you discover ways to overcome this inertia, you will never begin any worthwhile project. Okay, so we have decided on what our goals are and we have made a list of all the things that we want to do, but how do we get started on this list and overcome this very difficult first obstacle?
It is always a good idea to begin by identifying some of the things that will present themselves as different aspects of procrastination. One of the most insidious allies of procrastination is called ‘busywork’. Busywork is basically work that you think you need to do but that really is a way to avoid doing what you should be doing. I for example love to engage in tidying around the house and my desk whenever I contemplate doing something that I’m not too excited about. For example whenever I’m about to engage in a big writing project, and I am not as excited as I should be about this project, I tend to find all sorts of things that I should be tidying up. Make sure that you do not get stuck doing busy work or else you will delay or completely stall any attempt to get going on a project.
Avoid busy work by creating schedules for yourself. By scheduling a starting time for your work, you give yourself that extra ‘oomph’ that you might need to start your work on time.
Another evil little ally of procrastination is the inability to focus on the project that you want to accomplish. How this obstacle presents itself is that it acts like a little voice in the back of your head, telling you that you are focusing on the wrong thing and that you are limiting yourself to other possibilities. Focusing can be difficult because it means that you are eliminating other possible choices and accepting limitations. If you listen to that voice that is telling you that you are limiting yourself by focusing on getting something done, you will never get started on anything because you will think that you are wasting your time and making a mistake. You are basically creating a way to waste your time by endlessly contemplating the idea that you are wasting your time. That is a genius way to get yourself to not do anything ever at all!
If this little voice comes up, then accept the fact that you need to deal with it. Take the time to logically write down the reasons why you need to accomplish the project at hand. To that list add a list of the consequences of not accomplishing your goal. Examine this list and logically conclude on the reasons why you need to get this task accomplished ASAP. Never ignore this little voice, it could be trying to tell you something important that your conscious mind might have missed.
Perhaps one of the most powerful allies of procrastination is the fear of imperfection. Quite often we will not begin anything because we are so fearful that we will not be able to perform in the way that we think we can. If we think that by trying to do something we will discover that we are not quite as good as we thought we were, then we will do anything to avoid doing that one thing.
As a true dreamer myself, I have huge amounts of self-delusion about my own ability. It is quite often very difficult for me to begin some things because a little voice inside my head is telling me that if I attempt this I will discover just how ineffective and inadequate I really am. Don’t let this ally of procrastination hold you back, remember that it is far more important to be productive then to be perfect. Let go of yourself importance, the only way to be able to get better at something is by doing. Screwing up is just an gage that is showing you a better way to do something next time.
If you are ever having problems beginning any one thing try asking yourself the following questions:
Is my priority for accomplishing these goals too low? Honestly question yourself about how important the goal that you are trying to attempt is. If it is low priority, are there other things that you could be doing instead? If it is high priority, are you clear in your own mind how important this goal is?
Are there things in this project that I’m not clear about? Is it the case that there are things that you do not know or that you are not completely clear about? If you’re not clear or if there are apprehensions because you don’t know something, you can prevent any initial action on your part.
Have you scheduled the time for this goal? In order to do anything you need to schedule the time to do it. If you say you’re going to do anything but you cannot schedule a certain time to do this thing then you will never get started on the project because it will always be on the to do list sometime in the future.
Do you feel overloaded? Does this task that you want to accomplish feel like it’s way too much? Is it possible that you are doing too much already and that beginning a new task just seems like you are trying to take on too much? Make sure that you take the time to clearly define your time schedule so that you do not feel like you are doing too much at any one time. This definition can also help you to begin difficult projects because it will logically allow your mind to see that this new goal is doable.
Are you scared? This might seem like a funny question but there are times when we are scared that we might actually succeed or fail in that task that we are going to attempt. This fear is a good friend that might be trying to tell you that there are certain unconsidered ideas about the task or goal that you are about to engage in. There are times we find it incredibly difficult to begin something because we actually don’t want to get that one thing done. If you are fearful about this task that you are about to begin in any way, find out for yourself if there is a reason why you don’t actually want to accomplish it.
You overcome many of the obstacles above by consciously questioning what they are bringing to light. Through this conscious questioning you come up with your own reasoning, that will nullify the power of the allies of procrastination. It might seem like a lot of questioning before you begin any one project, but in a short period of time you will discover that you will not have to question yourself or your motives very much and that your procrastination will be a thing of the past. Think of procrastination as a friend that is trying to make sure that you have ‘covered all your bases’ before you start any project.