So, I actually procrastinated writing this article. [side note I just got up from writing this article to procrastinate some more]. But now I’ve turned off Season 4 Episode 2 of Mad Men and am ready to buckle down. And the reason is not only because it’s due by the end of the day, but because here at helium creative we have some tricks for getting stuff done! We decided to let you in on 10 not-so-secret ways to help hone your inner Don Draper and overcome the need to procrastinate — no matter how daunting the task.
Tip #1: Admit That You Have a Problem
Like any 12 step program, the first step to conquering procrastination is to admit you are a procrastinator. Many of us don’t even realize we are procrastinating. How many times have you put something off until the end of the day? Or made excuses not to do a certain task, only for the simple reason that it doesn’t interest you and you just flat out don’t want to do it? Once you admit this to yourself you can then begin moving on.
Tip #2: Trick Yourself
This one is simple. Start by making a to do list, but the difference is that you are going to pad this list with items you want to do much less than the ones you have to get accomplished, and you are going to place them towards the top of the list. This way you are tricking your brain into doing the easier tasks, which just happen to be the ones you need to complete. Here’s an example:
MY TO DO LIST:
1. 1. Run 20 miles.
2. 2. Write a blog about procrastination.
3. 3. Master calculus.
4. 4. Have a cookie.
Tip #3: Positive Reinforcement
Bribe yourself with something that you like [candy, chocolate, play time with the dogs] for completing tasks. We are a sucker for sweets.
Tip #4: Budget Your Time
Set time restraints that you have to follow. Having a clear deadline that you set yourself will help organize your time better. If you can use Tip #3 with this one and reward yourself every time you actually stay on schedule. Way easier said than done.
Tip #5: Piece by Piece
Break larger projects up into smaller pieces. A classic Chinese text written by La Tzu in the sixth century BC advises, “Accomplish the great task by a series of small acts”. The same goes for any project you decide to take on.
Tip #6: Do the Work “Around” the Work
Before diving headfirst into the main task – designing the magazine, laying out the brochure or programming the website – tackle the supporting tasks. Gather all the information needed, do a little market research and compile notes, sketches and outlines. This way you are more prepared for the heart of the project and you have accomplished most of the work without realizing it.
Tip #7: Build in some “Idea Time”
Since you will be setting a certain amount of time aside for a project as pointed out in #4, make sure to set aside some times to formulate ideas. Creativity doesn’t just happen, it isn’t a magical genie you can summon at will. Things evolve and take shape with time. Make sure you have enough.
Tip #8: Start Slowly
In order to not overwhelm yourself, start very slowly. Tell yourself, “I’m not going to start writing, but I am going to open Word.” Before you know it you will have tricked yourself into starting your project.
Tip #9: Everything is a Draft
Accepting that everything is a draft will help things get done. You do not need to hit a home run on your first pitch. Approaching a task in this manner let’s you off the hook so to speak but it also provides a built-in incentive to keep going.
Tip #10: Let Go of Perfection
Perfection is the enemy of getting anything done, However in more cases than none it’s not perfection in the true sense but a fantasy of perfection. We will always find something that needs to be changed, or that can be improved. Take a step back, have faith in your abilities and you will finish.