Stuck at the starting block – how to overcome procrastination

by Juliet Landau-Pope

The New Year is a traditional time to focus on beginnings. But are you avoiding important projects – at home, at work or while studying – because you don’t know where to start?

A birthday party to organise, a messy playroom to tidy, an application to complete – each involves a complex series of tasks. Maybe you worry about tackling them in the ‘right’ order so end up avoiding or delaying them altogether. In some cases, there is a logical or sensible sequence to follow: you need to confirm a date and venue before sending out invitations, for example. But does it really matter whether you declutter the dressing-up box or the art cabinet first?

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, selecting one thing to do first can be a tough decision but once you make up your mind, you’ll be on your way. If you’re procrastinating for this reason, here are some tips to help you leave the starting block:

Map it out

Write out a list of your ideas or let your imagination flow and create a mindmap. The important thing is to clear your mind by documenting (on paper or electronically) the different tasks that you want to tackle. Once you have a broader view of the project, the starting point may seem more obvious. For more suggestions on how to use lists to plan and prioritise, listen to my recent chat with comedian Jenny Éclair.

Start somewhere that won’t be too demanding and set micro-goals.

Treat it as a gentle warm-up. Take just one step at a time and focus on progress rather than perfection. When decluttering, for example, sort out a space such as one bookshelf that will make an impact but doesn’t represent too much of a challenge.

Ignore the previous suggestion and take Brian Tracy’s advice instead: Eat That Frog!

The recommendation is to undertake the most unpleasant task on your to-do list first. Once you’ve accomplished the most difficult thing – initiated a conversation, picked up the Lego, or paid an overdue bill – you’ll be motivated by a sense of achievement and your day can only get better!

It may not matter where you begin; anywhere is better than remaining stuck. The first step may be the hardest to take but try not to agonise over it. And once you do get started, don’t look back!

Find out more

Juliet Landau-Pope is a professional organiser and productivity expert, helping adults and teenagers to develop time management and organising skills. She’s written two books: Being More Productive and Clearing Your Clutter (out in March 2018). For more info, see: www.jlpcoach.com

 

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