I read something recently that suggested that a sure-fire way to end procrastination and to start you ploughing through your to-do list is to turn the next item on your to-action list into precisely that: an action. Take a task and break it down. Pick out the physical aspect of it and do that.
So, for example, there’s a niggling noise coming from your car that you really need to get sorted. You need to book it in to the garage. If you’re anything like me ‘Book car into garage’ could sit and gather dust on a list for a very long time. Perhaps if you phrased it differently? ‘Pick up the phone and ring garage.’ A call to physical action may elicit a more positive response.
You want to write a novel? Well, first you need to go pick up your pen and notepad (or laptop, natch!) and set yourself up at your desk. Open the page and get scrawling.
It may sound over-simplified, especially in my rather non-fully-informed telling of it but yet, even despite my worst efforts, there is a kernel of truth in there that remains evident. Focusing attention on a simple physical action helps to switch off the chatter of over-thinking that is the breeding ground of procrastination. We move ourselves a little bit closer to our goals without putting our minds into a spin.
Movement is the key. As we are moving we gather a momentum that carries us forward. Procrastination is born of stagnation and gives birth to more stagnation. The procrastinator is the deer caught in the headlights. Stuck. If only he can drag his eyes away from the oncoming truck for long enough to make one bound, he can leap free and gallop off through the woods.
Taking this theory a step further I, personally, find that physical movement for its own sake also has a hugely positive impact on both my mental well-being and my ability to stop procrastinating. If I get my body moving my mind will follow along behind, my thoughts gradually falling into step with my physical rhythm. Quite simply, I can’t fail to feel energised and positive and ready for action after a brisk walk.
And with that, I’m off out with the dog.