Going to the gym. Practicing a new skill when you have no skill. Giving bad news. Dealing with tech support.
We all have to make ourselves do things that we just don’t want to do. Here are some tricks I’ve learned that help me power through the procrastination.
1. Do it first thing in the morning. If you’re dreading doing something, you’re going to be able to think of more creative excuses as the day goes along. One of my Twelve Commandments is “Do it now.” No delay is the best way.
2. If you find yourself putting off a task that you try to do several times a week, try doing it EVERY day, instead. When I was planning my blog, I envisioned posting two or three times a week. Then Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy convinced me that no, I needed to post every day. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, I think it’s easier to do it every day (well, except Sundays) than fewer times each week. There’s no dithering, there’s no juggling. I know I have to post, so I do. If you’re finding it hard to go for a walk four times a week, try going every day.
3. Have someone keep you company. Studies show that we enjoy practically every activity more when we’re with other people. Having a friend along can be a distraction, a source of reassurance, or just moral support.
4. Make preparations, assemble the proper tools. I often find that when I’m dreading a task, it helps me to feel prepared. Here’s a silly example: I always dread packing, especially for my children. Yesterday, finally, I made a list of every possible item I might need to pack for any conceivable trip. Already, I dread the thought of packing less. I have a list.
5. Commit. We’ve all heard the advice to write down your goals. This really works, so force yourself to do it. Usually this advice relates to long-term goals, but it works with short-term goals, too. On the top of a piece of paper, write, “By the end of today, April 25, I will have _____.” This also gives you the thrill of crossing a task off your list. (See below.)
6. Remind yourself that finishing a dreaded task is tremendously energizing. Studies show that hitting a goal releases chemicals in the brain that give you pleasure. If you’re feeling blue, although the last thing you feel like doing is something you don’t feel like doing, push yourself. You’ll get a big lift from it.
This following link is related to the topic of happiness only in that it is such an elegant, sensible, economical solution to a sticky problem that is gives me a thrill just to contemplate it. I don’t even NEED this advice, but still, I appreciate its intelligence: Seth Godin explains how a small business or organization (or single person) who needs a web presence can get something perfectly satisfactory up with minimal money and effort, just using Typepad, a Squidoo lens, and Flickr (and actually maybe all you need is Typepad).