Beating Procrastination -Seeing Each Task As One Big Project

In our recent blog post on procrastination, we discussed the many reasons as to why you may find yourself procrastinating. One of which, may be viewing each task as one huge project. More than you may realize, a considerable part of putting things off comes down to how we actually view the task at hand. While it’s amazing to have a big, ambitious goal to aim for, if too much time is spent focusing on the huge distance between the starting point and the end result, you run a pretty good risk of never actually beginning.

Basically, your mental perception of something on your to-do list may be making it seem much more challenging or time-consuming than it actually is, and from the largest, toughest task to simple ones we do every day, nearly anything can be broken down into smaller steps. By doing so and setting priorities, the work quickly becomes more manageable, less intimidating and therefore brings on minimal stress. So stop seeing every project as a loaf of bread, and instead think of it in terms of slices.

Every journey, no matter how long it may be, starts with one small step, and then another, and then another until before you know it you’ve reached your destination. So if you’re looking at a project or goal that is so overwhelming that you can’t even begin to think about how to start, change your attitude first. Instead think “What can I do today that will get me one step closer to completing this project?” Make an outline of achievable milestones that will eventually get you to the finish line. Follow a guideline as such:

  • Look at the big picture. Make sure you fully understand what you envision the end product to look like.
  • Break it down. Identify small parts of the project and figure out, step-by-step, what you need to do for each of those parts (this may include how long each part will take, where you’ll be working, what you’ll need, who you’ll be working with, etc).
  • Come up with a logical order of completing those small steps. What should you knock out first, what can wait until the end, etc.?
  • Create a timeline for completing your tasks. This will help you to stay focused and hold yourself accountable. Also know that once you simply get started, you can always go back to your plan and re-cut or edit your timeline and goals. Be sure to finish early enough though so that you have time for a final review at the end.
  • If you still find yourself procrastinating over some of the seemingly ‘small tasks’, this may mean that they’re still not scaled down enough to stimulate you to get it done. Our point? Don’t be afraid to make milestones for your milestones.
  • Keep your eyes on the next step- not the end goal. Though tempting, avoid stopping to gaze at the faraway top of your mountain. Instead stay focused on the task/step at hand and work steadily towards that.

 

The key to quickly burning through any to-do list is clearly defining all that must be done. “Clean the house” is not a great or concentrated enough action step, for example. While it may seem silly to pat yourself on the back for simply driving to the grocery store to buy sponges and paper towels, utilizing the thrill of task completion (even as simple as they may sometimes be) might be just the motivation you need to beat procrastination and really get things finished.

Once we simply get started on a task our perception can change drastically, in the best way possible. You’ll likely realize that the task is less stressful, difficult and unpleasant than originally thought. Bask in the satisfaction of completing a task and praise each little step along the way.

 

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Make sure you read the other articles in our series on procrastination:

 

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