I have, in my life, read hundreds of articles about procrastination; why it’s bad, how to stop, what your life would be like if you didn’t do it. I should note that I read many of these articles in lieu of working on a paper, project, or lesson plan.
But recently I came across* a tip that worked. It’s not a long-term solution, it won’t break anyone of the habit, but in those moments where you just can’t get started, this works.
The tip: do nothing for a few minutes.
Yeah, that’s the big magic, stop doing anything. Literally sit somewhere, eyes open, and force yourself to stop; no tv, no phone, no nothing. Understand that this isn’t meditation, your thoughts are there and they’ll eat you alive while you’re forced to just sit there.
I tried this last night because it was 7 in the evening and I was still unable to get going on this state certification project that’s slowly draining my soul. Honestly, it seemed pretty stupid but I was desperate.
I sat on my couch and had to stop myself from planning things out in my head and picking up my phone, I even caught myself looking at my bookcases, deciding how I will pack the books when we move. But finally I put all of that aside and I felt…bored as hell. More importantly, the pressure to work on my project was unavoidable without distraction.
I went for what I thought was ten minutes and finally decided to just get started on the damn project. When I picked up my phone it had been two minutes. Two minutes.
I think this was so effective because my entire being really did want to get going on this project and make headway, but my brain just kept finding activities that brought me more immediate joy. Without those things, or any other stimulus, I was left with that urgency to work and couldn’t ignore it.
Like I said before, this is not a cure to procrastination, but if you find yourself really stuck and unable to get going, give this a shot. And then come back and tell me about your experience in the comments: negative, positive, meh, I want to hear it all.
Best of luck
*I wish I could remember my source but my overstressed brain can’t recall. Terrible historian alert, not citing her sources.