Beat Procrastination Today, Not Tomorrow

August 10, 2016

Maybe you love client interaction but hate all the inevitable paperwork. Or maybe you're the introvert who loves solving problems and pulling a tough transaction together but has to take a deep breath before facing difficult questions from a client.

Fast Company recently took a look at ways to push through the tension of starting a new task. "Instead of shouting over that voice telling you to put something off until later, why not ask it a question?" suggests writer Peter Banerjea. "Asking the right questions can help give you practical solutions when you feel stuck."

First, Banerjea suggests, ask "What one thing can I do to get started?" A project that feels big and overwhelming won't feel as bad or as complicated once you start making progress. Also, you'll feel more in control of the project once you've completed part of it.

Another question is "What are my three biggest priorities today?" One reason we procrastinate, Banerjea explains, is because we can feel overwhelmed by so much other work. To fight back, he says, "Ask yourself which three tasks — and they need to be concrete actions to take, not vague goals like "make progress" — you need to nail today." Once you commit to pushing other tasks aside until you've completed your priorities, the steps fall into place.

If you think getting started might be difficult, ask, "How can I make this easier?" "There's no shame in making something difficult easier for yourself to complete," Banerjea explains. Or simply start doing something simple every day, building on that habit to start new ones.

Finally, think about the toughest question: "What will go wrong if I don't do this now?" Exploring ways to prevent those problems often leads you to a natural starting point. "Fear happens to be an extremely powerful motivator," Banerjea says. "If a dose of fear can get you back on track with your goals, isn't it worth utilizing?"

For more thoughts on beating procrastination, read Fast Company's "Asking These 4 Questions Can Help You Stop Procrastinating."

Source: "Asking These 4 Questions Can Help You Stop Procrastinating," Fast Company (April 4, 2016)