Ah, procrastination, the nemesis of productivity and achievement.
When it comes to procrastination, we are both criminal and victim.
Not only do we all face it many times in our life, but it’s so insidious that we’re not always aware we are falling prey to it.
Fortunately, more often than not, with a bit of self-awareness, we realize we are procrastinating. This is the first step to waking up and start getting things done.
Once you are aware that you are procrastinating, here are two simple ways to stop and get back to work.
Fear isn’t always something negative. It doesn’t have to be paralyzing. Quite the contrary, it can be a powerful ally and motivator.
You know when they tell you to list all your goals and dreams on a sheet of paper and stick it to your wall or bathroom mirror?
Don’t do that. Instead, list what is going to happen if you don’t do what you should do. Make a list of all the things you fear for your life and future. The more and the worse those fears are, the better.
Write about how you’re going to be miserable if you fail.
Write about how horrible you’ll feel 10 years later when you’ll realize all your dreams will remain dreams forever.
Write about the pain of realizing you didn’t take your chance when you had it, now that it’s too late.
Do this and you’ll find quickly that browsing your Facebook feed for a little longer or watching one more YouTube video doesn’t seem so harmless anymore.
The 3-Second Rule
This is by far my favorite rule. Because in the end, it’s all about momentum.
Movement is action. On the contrary, thinking is inertia. The more you think about doing something, the less likely you are to actually do it.
That’s why when you know you have something to do, do not allow yourself, under any circumstances, to think about it for more than 3 seconds.
I mean no pondering. At all.
For this trick to be effective, you have to be ruthless about it. Every time you catch yourself thinking about doing something, count to three and make a decision: either you do it or you don’t. But you must decide right now, on the spot. No further thinking is allowed.
Doing this will first make you feel uncomfortable. Great! That’s what you’re looking for. Improvement happens outside of your comfort zone.
Sometimes, you’ll make the wrong choice. That’s perfectly fine. Better make a wrong decision than no decision at all. Aside from life-threatening situations, making the wrong decision is never really hurtful.
By the way, not deciding is a decision too. Just the worst one, because when you don’t make decisions, they are made for you by life or others.
Other times, you’ll choose to do nothing. But that’s fine too. At least you won’t have to sweat over it and will move on with your life faster. Most of the time, though, it will push you into action instead of sitting there paralyzed.
That’s it. If you ever catch yourself procrastinating, do these two things. Start picturing immediately yourself in the future, when it’ll be too late and you’ll wish you could go back in time to work your butt off. Guess what? You just traveled back in time, and now is your only chance.
Then consider what you should be doing right now. Count to three, then just do it. Don’t think. Just get started. Or don’t, and stay where you are.