We all have that one thing that we’ve been putting off. Something that we just can’t seem to start. We procrastinate until that something becomes a nagging, stressful thought that follows us day and night. And then we want to finish it even less than before!
For some, it may be a phone call or an unpleasant conversation. For others, it could be a writing project or developing social media content for your business. It could even be something as mundane as going through your closets or deep-cleaning your bathroom.
Whatever it is, there is likely something (or many things) that you avoid doing every day. The not-doing contributes to unhealthy levels of stress, less effective work and a decrease in satisfaction. So, why do we opt for procrastination when we lack motivation?
4 Reasons We Struggle to Get Motivated
The reasons many people choose to put off things they need to do (but don’t want to) rarely have anything to do with their ability to do the work. It’s generally more a factor of our mindset. Four of the most common reasons we procrastinate include:
- Feelings of Overwhelm: When your brain is scattered, and you are being pulled in a million directions, overwhelm can stop you dead in your tracks. It can be easy to find yourself feeling stuck and unable to take action at all.
- Lack of Clarity: Sometimes, large tasks or new projects can leave you with more questions than answers. When the parameters of a project are unclear, or you don’t know where to start, beginning the project can feel daunting.
- Fear of Rejection: Worrying about how the project will be received, your ability to deliver the expected results or what others will think of you can keep you from moving forward.
- The “Why” is Unclear: It is often the case that you delay a project or task because you don’t know why you are doing it in the first place. When you can’t answer the question “why,” you can easily distract yourself with your Instagram feed or endless Google searches.
So, how can we bust through these obstacles and accomplish the things we need to do? We’ve pulled together a list of tips you can use to get things done, even when you really, really don’t want to!
10 Tips for Getting Things Done (when you don’t want to)
- Think of the future you. The idea of the “future you” has been out there for quite some time, but it’s still one of the best ways to break through procrastination. How will putting off this task help the future you? Will procrastinating increase your stress tomorrow? Thinking about how your choices today will impact you in the near future can give you the motivation you need to get going.
- Take one small step. Are you avoiding that big writing project? Instead of concentrating on all the things you need to do to get the job done, commit to taking one small step toward completing the project. Maybe that means finding three excellent articles on your topic or putting together an outline. Just commit yourself to taking one step in the right direction.
- Give yourself time to rest. When you feel physically or mentally exhausted, you can’t put your best work forward. If you find that you lack motivation, give yourself permission to take a brief break to recharge. Power naps, brisk walks and meditation can all be used to calm your mind and body in preparation for work.
- Set an intention. Before you begin a project that you’ve been avoiding, set an intention for yourself. Say it out loud or post it on your computer screen. Stating your intention to the universe will help set it in motion. Some intentions could be “I am productive and focused for the next two hours” or “I will be kind to myself as I work through this project.”
- Change the way you talk about the task. Take note of how you talk about the task or project to yourself and others. Very often, we avoid certain tasks because they have started to feel hard, scary or unaligned. Those negative feelings come out in our language around the thing we are avoiding. Choose to speak more positively about the work, and it will begin to clear the mental blocks you experience.
- Put it on the calendar. We are more likely to do something when it has been scheduled. Adding it to your calendar will remind you of the commitment you made and hold you accountable to yourself.
- Enlist an accountability partner. We all need a little help sometimes. Tell a trusted friend or coworker about the task you have been delaying. Ask them to keep you accountable to the timelines and intentions you have set. Having some positive pressure on yourself can push you through when it’s feeling difficult.
- Hire a life coach. If you feel like you need a little more help, find a life coach near you. Life coaches are professionals who hold a coaching certification from an accredited life coaching school through the International Federation of Coaches (IFC). They have specialized training in helping people achieve their goals. What is a life coach? Learn more about life coaching and how a coach can help you get things done.
- Break the task into smaller, more manageable tasks. Productivity 101 tells us that breaking complex tasks down into more manageable parts can help us in a few ways: we feel less overwhelmed by the enormity of the task; our confidence increases as we complete each small task; and, our motivation increases as we progress through the incremental steps.
- Reward yourself. Remember how important it was to receive a gold star from your teacher? We love rewards for our work, even as adults! Gift yourself a massage, a glass of wine or any treat of your choice; but, you can only have this reward once you have completed the task.
How do you motivate yourself when you are just not feeling it? Share the tips and tricks you use to get things done and avoid procrastination stress successfully.