So you can’t get going. Perhaps it’s a big project at work, a paper for school or you just have too many things to do and you can’t decide what do so first so you just do nothing. Immobilized because you are overwhelmed. Here’s some tips on how to get moving.
Start with the easy stuff
So if you are writing a paper, write the different topic headings and then the subheadings. Maybe write the introduction and conclusion. Step by step. You may prefer some headings more than others and start filling those in first. Even if they are out of order. Don’t stop just because it’s not in order.
If you are at work and have to review a lot of mail and emails, if you know some mail just has to be glanced at and others will require some research, get the easy stuff out of the way first.
Why would you do it this way? Because when you make the work pile more manageable looking, you are more likely to feel productive and more likely to keep moving. It doesn’t really matter if you are more productive. The fact that the majority of the mail has moved from the in-box to the out-box will visually make you feel so much better.
If you pick the harder to handle mail, it will take longer to address each piece of mail and you may feel like you are not making progress. The key is to make yourself feel better about your work quickly so that you increase your motivation to address the more onerous part of your work.
Just pick something
If you don’t feel you have “easy stuff”, then just pick something. Don’t stare at the 5 books you have to read before next week and argue with yourself as to which to do and why. You could be there for days. If they all have to be completed, and none of them fall into an “easy” category, then make a pile and get going. Or read each one for an hour and then rotate till done. But just get going.
Likewise, if you can’t decide between checking email, voicemail, mail and the project you need to start, you have to force yourself to decide. And don’t second guess it. Many times, once you get started, you will get a better picture of the order in which things should get done. You may, at that point, rearrange what you are doing, but again, at least you are doing it.
A body in motion tends to stay in motion, right? So start school projects as soon as they are assigned. Even if you don’t know anything yet. Once those first words are written or that first idea is listed, you are far ahead and that ball is rolling.
If you work, start your work ASAP. Don’t get coffee and say hi to everyone. Get logged in and get some stuff done before you do all that. Again, it will get that ball rolling. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to work and realized it’s 30-60 minutes after I arrived! What happened? Lots of little things. They always happen. So get that start before they happen.
Talk to Others
So you have no idea what to do? You really feel you can’t start because you are just too confused? Talk to others. Talk to coworkers or classmates for ideas. Sometimes just starting a conversation on the topic can get that mental motor running.
Okay so you are really determined to procrastinate. Now it’s time for a reward. If you really just refuse to start your work, you are just going to have to reward yourself for every little step. You will have to figure out the perfect reward system. Keep it small so you can give yourself lots of rewards for each little accomplishment.
So, for example, I buy myself a box of chocolate covered Oreos. I get one cookie for every “more difficult” email I address. Or for every step of my project. Or for every part of my paper that I complete. So I completed a detailed outline – cookie. I filled in a quick rough draft for a section of my paper – cookie. And next section – cookie.
It would be better if you rewarded yourself differently but you gotta do what works for you!