A lesson that breaks habits of procrastination is contained in the one phrase ‘Do It Now!’. This is probably one of the most important things to learn. I now from painful experience of having a backlog of many things that I have wanted to get and do – but never quite getting round to them. Just by getting an attitude of ‘Do It Now!’ is helpful in making a start but there is more to it than that.
Let’s assume you have loads of great ideas, things that you want to do, things that you must get round to doing etc – the list is probably endless if you are like me. Then assume you have learned to break the habit of not starting any of them and you have learned that making a start on any of the ideas certainly helps you feel like you are achieving something.
OK, step back a moment – Maybe you haven’t quite got to that stage. I’ll go through this briefly. If you haven’t then – please – all those things that you wish to do, please get on with them. Sit down and write out your list of things that you want to do, have to do, would really like to do one day and put that list in a prominent place. Add to it, edit it, but make sure its there with you every day. Then make a start on as many of those things as possible, the most urgent first obviously. Very simply you are on your way to achieving those things that are important to YOU.
But, here is the next problem…
You have these little projects or tasks that you have started and then again it all stops. You probably have a list that feels impossibly long and going forward looks impossible. We need to achieve something first…
‘Finish What You Are Doing!’
You need to achieve little steps in each goal and actually finish them. So at least you have something you can show yourself or someone else even that shows you have taken a positive step towards wat you want to achieve. Something tangible. It could be anything, but it will have meant you have finished and completed a step and not just have a wish written in a list. Every goal you have written is probably made of between 1 to a thousand mini-goals that need to be finished before you move on to the next step. To make progress you need to accomplish and finish each of these little mini goals and have something to show that you have done it.
There is still another problem – at least one that I kept hitting. At least I can provide a solid example here from my own experience instead of just throwing ideas at you…
Whatever it is that I want to do I always want to do it properly. For me, one of my goals is becoming a writer, I have a lot to learn but at least I have made a start. But one of the most annoying things for me is that I want to write the perfect article each time – and I cannot. I found myself wasting loads of time trying to get it right. Even to the point I kept giving up because I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to the quality I expected – so many things were now getting written and lots of time wasted. So what should you do?
‘STOP trying for perfection’ for each step…
Obviously perfection is the DIRECTION, it should not be the GOAL.
So now, as quickly as possible, I will throw all my ideas in together and produce a quick draft. This may in fact be unreadable but at least it contains the essential idea for the article. This idea of actually producing (what I feel is) rubbish does go against my nature but at least I have put together something tangible. I have in effect achieved my goal but it is not perfect.
Next step obviously, in quick little cycles of review and improve, to keep imporving the article until either I feel it is enough or until a certain time is up. The timing of this is important and I feel there is a subjective formula in there that determines the square of the length of time you spend is proportional to the quality of the article. Obviously this cannot be measured directly but I feel it roughly works that way. It means that the most benefit is first and it tails off the more time you spend on it. If you keep going at this one article you may produce something that is technically great but actually nobody may be interested in it and you have wasted a tremendous amount of time.
Long term – your DIRECTION is perfection, but don’t let that be a goal. Learn from your mistakes. You will get most benefit if you have already made loads of mistakes already to learn from.
So in short – Not just ‘DO IT NOW!’ – But also – ‘Finish What You Are Doing! – STOP trying for Perfection!’
I reserve the right to change any of these ideas as I go along – but this is what is working for me, right now. I hope you find it just as useful.