A Simple Brain Hack Shows You How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Motivated
When it comes to helping you learn how to stop procrastinating and get motivated plus be more productive there is a trick that I have found works fairly well to stop procrastinating. And it works for even the most intimidating, nightmarish tasks on your to-do list.
In fact, it works especially for those cluster-funks involving multiple people and multiple moving parts on multiple timelines.
This sense of dread in the face of many of our to-do’s is a big reason why our long to-do lists stay so damn long. Because our natural reaction is avoidance of the task (aka, procrastination), often in the irrational hope that it might somehow just go away, or that you’ll find some magic bullet idea that will result in its swift elimination through a sweeping act of genius.
Yep, that happens. Never. Not ever.
Let your mind munch on the disarmingly simple brain hack I’m about to share. What I mean by disarmingly simple is that it mainly involves little more than the act of giving yourself permission to stop procrastinating. To fail in a small way. To be slightly imperfect. If you can just do that, this hack (oops, I meant trick!) will work wonders for SOME of you.
To get us started though, I need to paraphrase Dr. Neil Fiore from his book The Now Habit. In it, he basically says the following about how to stop procrastinating…
Never look at a big project and say, “I have to finish that dang thing”. Because you’ll be less likely to schedule time to do it. The thought of having to finish is the surest way to invoke all the mental and physical chemistry that supports continued procrastination.
The more painful or perceived-to-be painful a given task is, the more we will try to seek relief in avoidance. And the notion of having to finish something is almost always painful or threatening.
Worrying about finishing, he says, is a form of perfectionism. Your failed attempts at finishing when you do take up the task, reinforce your belief that such tasks are…unfinishable! You will then wait for that 11th hour jolt to drag you – kicking and screaming – into the finishing…which will surely yield a less-than-perfect end product.
Do not think about finishing. Instead, says Fiore, just schedule time to START. OK, sounds easy enough, right?
Well, not when there’s that sense of overwhelm and dread we get when confronted by tough tasks. Not when we’re unable to fathom WHERE to start on a complex to-do. And not when we’re afraid to begin because we know we’ll just get bogged down soon after starting…or that we’ll do such a lousy job at it that…well, Why bother?!!
Now, the trick that lets you hack through all those forms of paralysis is simply to give yourself permission to start. And you do that by…
- Giving yourself permission to NOT finish.
- Giving yourself permission to be imperfect.
- Giving yourself permission to FAIL (to finish).
And that last one’s key. Drop all expectations of finishing. The only thing you need to do is start, with no demand on yourself other than to give it a few minutes’ effort.
This is the gift that accrues to us when we just give ourselves permission to START. That is, to fail. To be imperfect. To NOT finish.
Weird, huh? Get weird with me and try it. I bet you’ll find that it works.