“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” —Mark Twain
You have a project due tomorrow and will need to burn the midnight oil to get it done. Or you
thought you had all the time in the world to come up with the perfect topic and suddenly the
deadline for your Nature’s Pathways article is today! Has this ever happened to you?
We have all been there! In a nutshell, we procrastinate when we put off doing things that we
should be focused on right now, usually in favor of doing something that is more enjoyable or
that we are more comfortable doing. Here are some tips to help you get started!
1. Start something right now instead of waiting until you feel thoroughly prepared.
2. Set realistic goals but don’t set them in stone.
3. Set performance goals, not outcome goals. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld had a strategy
for writing great comedy material. He wrote every day and drew a big red “X” on the
calendar. Pretty soon, he had a chain of “Xs.” The goal was to not break the chain! His
focus was on the process, not the outcome and the result of his daily writing process was
he wrote great material.
4. Celebrate small victories!
5. Use a timer — when it goes off, stop.
6. Make a conscious effort to realize that whatever the project is, it can’t be perfect.
7. Flip your daily to-do list. You wake up and list the things you need to do today. Odds
are, one item is worth more than the rest or you are dreading one item more than the rest!
Our natural tendency is to put that task off until later, using all kinds of excuses to avoid
doing it. We invent all kinds of reasons not to get that one thing done. This
energy, steals momentum and usually prevents us from getting anything done! Conduct a
gut check and do it! Now!
8. Make a “smart” to-do list. Include only items you
are avoiding, not the ones you would
do anyway. Set deadlines!
9. Give yourself time off. Have you put off going to lunch with a friend or going to the gym
because you are too busy? Use this time to recharge without feeling guilty. All work and
no play is just not effective. Look at what it did to Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”!
10. Remove distractions from your workspace. If you hear the siren call of Pinterest or
Facebook, put your devices away.
11. Remind yourself that there is always more to be done than can be done. Ask yourself if
you are getting the right things done.
12. Put “do nothing” on your to-do list.
In conclusion, just start! Action precedes motivation. Once you get going, the motivation to keep