When we get to the core of procrastinating what we are really doing is avoiding pain. Not physical pain but emotional pain. The type you get form starting a 5,000 word assignment, balancing the books or writing that report for work.
We even go to the effort of doing something that we usually don’t like doing just so it delays doing that one painful task.
If I had a task to complete that I didn’t look forward to, my brain would go on autopilot and suddenly I would be doing the washing up, doing the laundry or doing almost anything that seemed like a fair reason not to be doing what I was supposed to. I found doing housework less painful than!
But I learnt how to beat procrastination with one little trick. And this little trick will only take 3 minutes of your time. Imagine that. Getting your tasks done with just 3 minutes! Here’s how it works
For the first 60 seconds I want you to imagine you have completed the task that you have been putting off. Think of that feeling you get once you know you have completed a task and are now done with it.
That sigh of relief when you finally hit ‘submit’ on that uni assignment. Or that sense of accomplishment you get when looking through your beautifully presented professional report you did for work. Immerse yourself in that feeling and identify what it is.
For the next 60 seconds I want you to think about the steps you need to go through to get started. If you avoiding your gym session break down what needs to be done to get there. Head to the room and grab my gym clothes.
Put on my shoes from the shoe box. Grab a towel and fill up a water bottle. They are all really simple tasks and the goal is just to get you out the door. To be really effective think of specific pieces of clothes you might want to wear. Like you favourite Adidas top. Whatever it is that you are avoiding imagine yourself going through the process to get started.
In this third and final minute you need to take a small bit of action towards achieving your long term goal. If it’s an essay you are putting off then commit to doing a 1 minute ‘brain dump’ on the topic for 1 minute.
For the gym you can make a deal with yourself that you only have to get to the entrance and that if you still don’t feel like it you can leave and go elsewhere. You will be surprised at what results you can produce in promising yourself only one minute of work.
That one minute brain dump can lead to 1 hour of non-stop writing. Just going to the entrance of the gym can lead to a 45 minute workout.
The reason that this strategy works is because our brains will build up events that we don’t want to do and turn them into something bigger. This will lead to an anxious mind and self-doubt.
But when we break it down to a much smaller commitment such as 1 minute of writing, this is something that we can get on board with.
The first 2 one minute exercises are backed up by a research study. ‘Harnessing the Imagination’ was a research paper by a team of academics at the University of California. The study compared two groups of children preparing for an exam.
One group were confident in achieving success with enormous self-belief. The other group would imagine the exact process of studying and what it would take to succeed. The results showed that the students who imagined what it took to succeed achieved better results. That’s why thinking about those processes and success action items are crucial.
Now it’s over to you. What is that one thing that you have been putting off? Follow the three steps in this process and be genuine about. If you start doing something for a minute and still aren’t into it then stop. Go back the next day for one minute. You’ll get there.