You have a project that absolutely has to get done, but there are so many distractions that you’re making little to no progress. How can you get an upper hand on procrastination? Here are seven handy tips from successful readers. You may not relate to all of them, but any two or three might get you to the finish line.
First: tie the task at hand to a larger goal that you’re passionate about. That way, you know you’ll get a positive charge from the outcome. For example: if you complete this important report, you’ll be one step closer to getting that promotion you crave. The report becomes a stepping-stone to advancement.
Second: consider starting the project with the easiest part. If you’re trying to get your head around the entire project, you might feel defeated before you begin. But know that you can actually start anywhere and get some progress down—which will eliminate some of the emotional resistance to tackling the rest of the project. Once you’ve gotten some of the project finished, you will get on a roll, where you have the momentum to keep going.
Third: break the task down into small chunks. You will spend the next five minutes working on a piece of it and get the satisfaction of completing a part of the whole project. Then you can devote the next five or ten minutes to another chunk and focus only on that piece of the puzzle.
Fourth: unplug, disconnect and put a hold on everything that could potentially disrupt your focus.
Fifth: Select an environment that fits your style of work.
Sixth: set up a system of rewards. If you spend a productive hour on the project, promise yourself a creamy double mocha latte. Savor the reward, and also feel satisfied that you’re one hour closer to completion. Make the reward something you wouldn’t normally give yourself or do for yourself.
Seventh: overcome the need to be perfect. The fear of creating an imperfect project can make you paralyzed and unable to begin. Think of the times in your life when you failed but changed direction and succeeded in the end. Or give yourself permission to do great (if imperfect) work initially, and then clean up any imperfections at the end.
This article was written by an independent writer for Brewster Financial Planning LLC and is not intended as individualized legal or investment advice.