We’ve all been there. You do every minor, non-pressing task before you willingly sit down to do that report or talk to that person: you wash your car, you clean your house, you clean your neighbor’s house. You will do anything to avoid the big stuff at hand. When it comes down to it, the pressure is on to get it done, and you know it eventually has to. So forget about all those micro-tasks on your To-Do list, such as grocery shopping or mailing those letters, and get going on the important stuff.
Give Yourself a Goal
Waiting until the last minute to start and complete a task may not give you the best quality of work, but it will sure get your butt into action to finish before a deadline. Stop pushing off the work that you know needs to be done. You’ll have a lot less stress and a lot better quality work if you start sooner rather than later. Make the commitment and follow through by setting an overarching goal. A goal without a deadline can continue to be pushed off. Set the deadline and follow through with the date and time you set.
You may wish to follow the SMART Objectives guideline:
- Specific - What is it exactly that you're trying to achieve?
- Measurable - How are you going to quantify your results?
- Action Orientated - What actions will you take to achieve your goal?
- Realistic - Is this goal realistic?
- Timely - What are time constraints are you're going to implement?
Break Down Your Goals Step By Step
Once you’ve decided what your final goal is, plan out smaller goals to give you a little sense of accomplishment each time you surpass a milestone. Setting little goals for yourself helps with discipline. If you divide up the task, the larger goal may seem less weighing. If you say to yourself, “By noon today, I will have accomplished X,” and you actually finish what you needed to do, you’ll feel better about reaching the goal. Planning ahead and having a general time frame for getting things done also ensures that you’ll have plenty of time to finish and review what’s due.
Set small goals for yourself, find a friend, then tell them what those goals are. Ask them to hold you accountable for the work that you need to get done. Having a friend hold you to that deadline makes sure you have to have it done. Hopefully, you won’t want your friend to scold you for not doing your work.
On the other hand, reward yourself for when you do finish something. As long as it doesn’t interfere or stop your focus, give yourself a quick break, whether that involves a walk, an episode of Netflix, or going out to grab a coffee. While you’re working, give yourself something to look forward to. You deserve a break (but be sure to finish your work).
Don’t Avoid the Big Stuff
It might seem daunting to start a big project, so you start with the little things that need to be done. As much as this may give you twinges of accomplishment, that big task will be hanging over you until you finish it. The longer you wait to get the important, bigger tasks done, the less time you have to complete it. Leave the smaller tasks for later and get going on the big stuff.
Don’t be afraid of failure. Get going on your To Do list, whether that means creating small tasks that lead up to a big one, or sitting down and completing your project before the deadline looms. What are you waiting for? Stop procrastinating by reading this and get going.
- Give yourself a goal (don't forget SMART Objectives)
- Break down your goals into baby steps
- Get someone to be your accountability buddy
- Reward yourself
- Don't avoid the big stuff
- Start Now
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