I am by nature a procrastinator. I am an idealist and a perfectionist in some sense. I would rather do something perfectly or not at all. It’s not only the small things l postpone, yes l put off sleeping, until the very last possible dying minute. I also struggle with big things like career and life decisions or anything really that is boring or daunting. Paying bills, cleaning out my closet, going to the dentist, eek! I only got my national Identity Card two years ago, 10 years after l was “supposed” to get it. I’m the worst, l know, but my passport was working just fine. Tasks easily drift into tomorrow, and the next day and the next until my to-do list is a mile long, then l get overwhelmed and leave it altogether. Well here is how l have been tricking myself into making things happen.
Do the worst thing first
More often than not, there is that one thing that is on everybody’s list that they dread doing. Whether it’s making an awkward phone call, reviewing financial statements, shredding documents or my personal favourite being, getting your tooth pulled out. I have had four of those taken out l’m practically toothless at this point. These are the things you need to do early when your energy levels are highest. I have learnt that tackling the hardest problem first thing gives me a boost and everything else just flies off my to do list. The funny thing is the things that we dread doing are not as awful as we imagined.
Break it down
Sometimes difficult tasks are just too big to tackle in one go break them, down into small doable steps. Kitchen cupboard and closet clear-outs. Instead of spending the whole afternoon pulling out all the clothes you own out of every closet, do it in sections, eg coats section, dresses section, etc. I tried the former and it was a bad idea because I had bitten off way more than l could chew. Ask the clothes are left on the bedroom floor for days. And remember to allocate 20 minutes or less to each section so you don’t get sucked into a rabbit hole, trying on that dated sequinned dress from five years that is now two sizes to small.
Set a timer
I read somewhere that Tony Robbins sets a 10 minute timer on every task, this is kind the same thing. Set a timer or phone alarm for 10 minutes and go hard for that time. Usually 10 minutes is not enough to clear your email inbox or review your monthly financial statements but it is enough to get you past the initial hurdle of actually getting starting. It makes it easier to finish even after the 10 minutes is past.
Make it fun
Almost anything can be made better with a little creativity. Except maybe when having a root canal, or maybe the dentist can be persuaded to let you listen to something a little distracting. But for everything else; open a bottle of wine, listen to your favourite podcast, play your favourite YouTuber’s videos in the background or light a candle and before you know it, you are done. The process might be daunting, but you will feel lighter as a result. If it’s a recurring task like doing your bills, set a weekly slot on your calendar and make fun part of your ritual.
Celebrate small victories
Rewarding (bribing) yourself for doing things is one way of getting shit done. The carrot and stick method, more like pastry and stick in my case, works for a reason. Folded the laundry? Have a chocolate filled croissant. Cleaned under the bed? Take a nap, you need one after all that heavy lifting.