How much time and energy do you spend stressing and feeling guilty about things you’re procrastinating? If you’re like me, the answer is too much! You’d think that somewhere along the line I’d realize it’s easier to just do the thing in the first place, rather than allowing it to wallow in the back of my mind, making me feel guilty. But no.
I like to blame Newton’s first law of motion: an object in motion will remain in motion and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force.
In English, it’s the reason I can run around and get so much accomplished at work, but once I get home and sit down, it’s so hard to get going again.
In the book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about how if you want to establish a habit, decrease the number of steps it takes to accomplish it (aka, make it easier to do). If you want to break a habit, increase the number of steps it takes to accomplish it (aka, make it harder to do).
In keeping with this philosophy, I’ve come up with silly ways to trick myself into getting moving again.
I have sensitive teeth so my awesome husband bought me a top of the line Sonicare that has a special sensitive tooth setting. But after a long day, when I’m ready to drop into bed, 2 minutes sounds like way too much time to dedicate to brushing my teeth. I found myself skipping brushing my teeth. Gross, I know.
My solution: I grabbed a manual toothbrush. Any brushing is better than no brushing. I tell myself I’ll just do a quick brush, but once I get going, I probably spend the same amount of time brushing my teeth with the regular toothbrush as I do with the electric one. Somehow starting is easier when I know I’m not committing myself to 2 minutes of brushing.
My favorite chores to procrastinate are dishwashing and clothes folding. They’re so repetitive and never-ending. And it feels like they take FOREVER to do. I tell myself I’m just going to do them for 5 minutes to get myself started. I don’t actually set a timer, but you can if it helps.
I find that once I can get myself started, it’s easier to finish. And it usually doesn’t take more than 5 minutes anyway. You just think it takes forever because it’s not the most enjoyable task. Trust me, time it.
You can also make it more fun by listening to music or a podcast. I don’t mind doing the chores as much when I have something entertaining to listen to.
I’ve been really struggling to clean my house lately. We’re busy and I’m tired. But the more I procrastinate, the worse our house gets- and the bigger of a job cleaning becomes. I’ve already created a schedule for myself that breaks the cleaning down into little daily chunks, but I’ve been stubbornly ignoring it.
I’m going to commit myself to spend 15 minutes a day cleaning my house. I may be busy, but I’m pretty sure I manage to waste more than 15 minutes every day. Why don’t you join me and see what a difference just 15 minutes a day can make?
I know you’re tired and it seems easier to just keep pushing the little tasks off. But the more you procrastinate the bigger a problem they become. Not to mention they take up too much space in your already cluttered mind making you feel guilty and sapping your limited energy. What ways have you found to trick yourself into getting started?