Overcoming the All Or Nothing approach.
We tend to see the tasks in front of us as either done or not done. But whether something is completed or not depends on how the job was defined in the first place.
It’s hard to put a ‘check’ next to something you know is not finished, even if it’s 50% finished or even 80%. After all, it’s not really done… There may be a couple of reasons why the things we want to do still don’t get done:
1. When a Project pretends to be a Task
2. When we start something, we usually procrastinate on and hit the first bump in the road.
Breaking it down
Sometimes, when we set our goals and divide them into smaller tasks, we forget to create even smaller steps leading to completion. It is usually possible – and if you tend to procrastinate, it is highly recommended – to break seemingly simple tasks even further.
We often don’t feel like we have accomplished something unless it’s FINISHED. But, when we divide our tasks further, in smaller sub-tasks, we can easily check some boxes quickly and therefore restore our self-confidence
So next time you get down to setting goals and then turning them into tasks, try the kaizen approach of tiny things that can be quickly completed, and yet still move you forward.
Because these steps are smaller, they are less overwhelming, easier to fit into a busy schedule, and don’t give your that daunting tasks feeling ahead of you.
When a Project pretends to be a Task
How come sometimes we have a neat to-do list that cannot seem to be completed? We work on something and yet are still unable to cross it off our list.
The reason is many tasks may look entirely innocent on paper. Still, in fact, they are a group of smaller tasks, otherwise known as a Project.
It works, exceptionally well with tasks, I tend to procrastinate on, like all of my admin stuff, invoicing clients, or tax returns.
Before, I would add something like ‘new post for my blog’ and avoid it like the plague. I knew the innocent ‘new post’ thing was, in fact, many different tasks in the first place! Not being realistic at what completing each sub-tasks requires would always get in my way and turn it into a monumental work.
Now I understand ‘post to blog’ is not huge, but nonetheless, a project.
By breaking it down to smaller sub-tasks such as: picking photos for the blog, renaming and resizing the photos, adding keywords, writing the text, adding links, it is easier to get things done. That way, I feel like I am moving forward and not feeling overwhelmed.
Overcoming procrastination with preparation
Have you ever started cooking or baking, got to it enthusiastically, only to discover halfway into it that some ingredients are missing or there’s an extra step you need to take? That things take longer than expected? I know I have and it usually ended up in a mess.
I’ve discovered that sometimes, after I produce enough momentum to start working on something I procrastinated on, the first snag bump in the road can put me off completing the task for days (or longer).
There’s usually something small missing – some numbers or other data that I have to look for elsewhere or wait for someone else to send it to me. And the whole plan of completing a seemingly simple task collapses.
These days, whenever I have some admin work, I try to apply the Mise en place or “everything in its place’ approach before I even start.
It’s easier to feel accomplished as even the preparation is an important step that earns you a checkmark, gives you some positive feedback and builds the momentum.
So whenever I add to my list a task I am likely to procrastinate on, I first make sure it’s a task and not a project. If it’s a project, I break it down further to lower my stress levels, and also make sure that one of the tasks is preparation.
[…] 10. Learn how to overcome procrastination […]
[…] MAKE IT SUPER EASY (REMOVING FRICTION) […]
[…] you know how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. And that’s what the timer does for you! Tiny but frequent bits that don’t strain you are easy […]