Overcoming procrastination

At the end of last year, I finally did a business-related task I’d been procrastinating on for ages. It was a non-trivial project, but I’d been thinking “I really should do this” for way too long. It felt so good to finally have it completed!

And starting the first week in January I finally started using my Waterpik flosser. I had that thing sitting on my bathroom counter for three months before I read the instructions and began using it. Taking better care of myself was one of my goals for 2018, and this was a nice first step. My dental hygienist can stop bugging me about this, finally. Why did I wait so long?

But procrastination is something almost all of us fight at times. Sometimes we procrastinate for months over something that winds up taking just a few minutes. Laurie Voss tweeted about putting off a phone call for three months that took only three minutes when he finally did it. I relate to that!

I’m very good about taking care of things that are time-critical. But many things on my lists have no real urgency about them. Still, getting them done would have a positive impact on my life.

As I’ve been thinking about the simple to-dos and larger projects that seem to linger on my lists, I’ve decided I’m going to try this approach: Each week, I’ll do one thing I’ve been procrastinating about tackling. If I get inspired and do more than one, that’s great — but one is my minimum.

My lists include substantial projects (get my many boxes of old slides scanned), much smaller things (follow the instructions for fixing my shredder, which has stopped turning off automatically), and things in the middle (update a 400-line spreadsheet listing places to donate and recycle various items). Some of my to-dos are even fun, like seeing some current movies and reading books on my to-be-read shelf. (I mostly read digital books, but in some cases I enjoy having a physical copy.)

For the large projects, I won’t try to do the whole thing in one week — I’ll just take the next meaningful step. For example, the first step on dealing with my slides would be going through the first few trays of slides to decide if they are all ones I want to have scanned.

I also know that making a public declaration of intent is a good way to make sure I really overcome my procrastination. So here’s my declaration — I’ll report back later this year to let you know how things went.

2 Comments for “Overcoming procrastination”

  1. posted by Rob Wilcox on

    I think this is a great idea, and I look forward to hearing future updates about how successful it was. I might even give it a try myself! I like the idea of accountability as well, I’m sure that will help change the outcome of this adventure.

  2. posted by Megpie71 on

    Something I’ve found works for me with these sorts of “putting it off forever” tasks is choosing to do a small (but non-zero) number of things on a regular basis. For example, at the moment I’m working my way through a bundle of cookbooks I’m planning on donating, and transcribing the recipes I want to keep. I’m only doing two a day every day from Monday to Friday, but even so – two per day each weekday is ten a week and it gets more of the task done than zero per day. I’ve already managed to get one cookbook out into the “donate this” bag in the hall since the middle of January, and I’m about three-quarters of the way through the next one (it’ll hit the bye-bye bag about the middle of next week). I’m planning on using the same system to gradually go through the pile of freebie recipe magazines our local supermarket gives away too – I currently have quite a pile of those to deal with, so I’ll alternate them with the cookbooks, and they can go in the recycling when they’re done.

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