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Learning how to stop procrastinating isn’t really all that hard.  it’s just a matter of figuring out how to move past that tough starting point.

How to Stop Procrastinating

We’ve all been there. We’ve all lived it. We all know what it’s like.

There’s the elephant in the room, the 800-pound gorilla… that thing that we know we have to do but never seem to be able to get it done.

It’s a natural part of life, of everybody’s life actually, that there will be things we need to get done but have no idea how to get started.

The things we know we need to do come in a wide variety of areas and sizes (and penalties for not getting them done), but every one of them have one thing in common.  We put them off because we don’t have a good way to start doing them, let alone finishing them!  We have no idea how to stop procrastinating and start doing.

It could be:

  • Cleaning the kitchen/garage/desk/fridge (well, cleaning anything actually)
  • Hanging/taking down the Christmas lights
  • Finishing the report
  • Starting the report
  • Writing the blog post (hey, wait a minute!)
  • Filing the paperwork
  • Passing out the fliers because you were talked into volunteering to be the neighborhood leader and now you have to let everybody know about the upcoming party (had to say it)
  • Starting to live the life we were meant to live

These are all hard things. And things that we may or may not love, but things that we know we have to do.

Isn’t it funny that just knowing that we have to do something lessens our desire to actually do it?

No matter what you do, even if you are an extremely successful blogger/entrepreneur/hair model, there are things that you must do that don’t really excite you… things that you keep putting off because you don’t know where to start or how to find the ambition to start them.

Learn how to stop procrastinating and start living a life you'll love.

The Problem with Procrastinating

So we know that there are things we need to do that we’re not doing.  And we know that everybody deals with this.  So if everybody is doing it, what’s the problem with us doing it?  Or not doing it, as the case may be.

The problem with not knowing how to stop procrastinating is that it’s actually keeping us from fulfilling our potential.  It’s keeping us from living a life full of joy and a life we love.

Fear not, my fellow procrastinators, for I have developed a simple method for getting things done. (no, really!)

I call it…

The START method

That’s right… we’re going to use the START method to get started and stop procrastinating.  Follow these 5 easy steps when you have a task that you need to get done.

Specific

To get started, identify a specific task that needs to be done.  You’ll want to narrow this down as much as possible.

Put off procrastinating by doing your work in easy to manage bite-sized chunks.  (no snacking here, that comes later)

You know you need to clean the house (or is that just me?), but that is a major undertaking!  Break that down into a specific task, or a subsection of a larger task. Instead of taking on cleaning an entire house, why not just get started by cleaning the kitchen?

Still too much?  How about just doing the dishes, because the second step is to work on something for a specific amount of time.  Hey that’s next!

egg timer

Which came first… the procrastination or the egg timer?

Time

Set aside a block of time when you know you’ll be able to work on whatever you’ve just identified.  Make it for only an hour or maybe even 30 minutes.  Winning builds momentum, so you’ll want to pick a small amount of time that doesn’t seem so overwhelming.  Just the thought of telling myself I’m going to work on something for 2 hours makes me want to go take a nap.

If you have time to get to this right now, then yay you!  But perhaps the best way to stop procrastinating is to schedule time to work on the things you don’t want to.  And sometimes the things you do want to!

Schedule a time to work on this.  Make it a reasonable amount like an hour so that you don’t get burned out. Put it on your schedule, your day planner or your calendar. Work is much more bearable if you know that there is an end to it.

Set a timer before you start.  Don’t use your phone unless you absolutely have to.  I highly recommend an egg or kitchen timer for keeping yourself on task.  No electronics = no interruptions!

Act Only On This

During the time that you’ve set aside, make sure this is all that you will be doing.  Don’t schedule it during your favorite TV show or while you’re doing something else.  You need to give this task your full attention.  Come on, you can do anything for just 30 minutes! No breaks!

Remove Distractions

This is a tough one for a lot of us.

Silence that phone.  Turn off the TV.  Step away from the computer and nobody gets hurt!

It’s ok if you have whatever music gets your motivation muscles worked up, but make sure it’s not something that is going to lead you away from the task at hand.

  • Favorite song comes on radio?  Whistle while you work.
  • Doorbell rings?  You don’t need what they’re selling anyway.
  • Phone rings?  Weren’t you supposed to silence that?!

Remember, you’re working only on this, and you only have to keep at it for a little while.

Treat

Yay You!!!

Hopefully you’ve been Specific about the task, set aside a specific amount of Time, Acted only on the task, Removed and/or ignored all distractions… so now Treat yourself to a reward!

Make it a reward that is somewhat in line with the task you completed so that you don’t feel like you can cheat this system.  You’ll feel better accomplishing small tasks and giving yourself a small reward than if you accomplished a small task and gave yourself an entire 3 layer chocolate cake.  I promise.

Congratulations!

You’ve made a great START on your journey to stop procrastinating!

WAIT!!!

** there’s a very important part of this process that needs mentioning… if you have been working on your task for the set amount of time and want to just keep plugging way at it, make sure you take a little break and treat yourself first.  Keep any deal that you make with yourself!  Reset that clock and work for another 30/60 if you want!  (you’re so awesome!)

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Often referred to as “that long-haired computer guy”, Dee Hathaway is a government technology leader with a passion for helping people do things better and a goal of always having the newest cell phone available. His first book Here's What Let's Do: Stop Being Average and Start Being Awesome was an Amazon #1 bestseller.
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