Particularly when I’m tired or overwhelmed, procrastination and I can get pretty cozy. It’s not that I laze around, but I put off tasks that really matter. (Anyone else have an urge to reorganize their Word documents when facing a deadline?)
But through the years, I’ve learned and utilized these seven steps to push past procrastination and get productive.
Take a cat nap.
Sleeping might seem like more procrastinating, but for me, a short nap (15 to 30 minutes) can reset my brain and recharge my energy levels. Just ask my kids – they’ve seen me sprawled on our home-school room floor many times through the years taking just such brief naps prior to grading papers.
Make a list.
Write down all that you feel you need to accomplish, and then prioritize those tasks. Be willing to set aside the mundane in favor of what is truly most urgent.
Break down tasks into manageable chunks.
All summer I have wanted to paint the first floor of my house. Have I done it? No. It’s seemed too overwhelming, and I have allowed other tasks to take priority. But I recently decided that if I work on the trim first for a short time each day until it’s done, I’ll be able to paint the walls afterward with help from my family. I’m not setting a deadline to complete the entire job, just a goal to work on it a little each day.
Set a time limit.
Along with prioritizing tasks and breaking down each into manageable chunks, I designate a reasonable amount of time to work on each job. For instance, if I think, “I should really sew tonight,” I probably won’t want to get out the sewing machine and work on my patio furniture cushions. But if I think, “I’ll sew tonight for twenty minutes,” I will set a timer and get to work. It’s always amazing how much I can accomplish when I focus, even for a short amount of time.
Ask for help. And again I say, Ask for help!
I used to begrudge the time I spent in the kitchen while my family hung out together in the living room after dinner. After many pity parties (and my husband’s gentle reminder that he is not, nor has he ever been, a mind reader), I asked them for help with some of my simpler, but more time-consuming chores. Now, they are all wonderful about asking me, “Mom, do you need me to do anything?”
Listen to or watch something entertaining while you work.
Snow White’s seven vertically challenged compatriots had it right: whistling while you work does make mundane tasks more pleasant. While it isn’t possible to listen to music/audio books or watch YouTube videos during every task, such distractions can make time fly when house cleaning or home renovating, for example.
Work toward a reward.
The promise of a treat works just as well for me as it does for my dog, Jessie. (I’m not sure what that says about me.) If I promise myself a cup of tea and an episode of my current favorite PBS series upon completing a task, I find myself working a bit more industriously.
What helps you get busy? I welcome your input as always.
Verses to consider:
In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. – Proverbs 14:23
They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. – Isaiah 41:6
Let all things be done decently and in order. – I Corinthians 14:40
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:16