The root of procrastination is dread, and the root of dread is ... an exaggerated feeling of the time and effort a project will take.
Many projects, however, when tackled with focus, determination and gusto, can actually be whipped out in less than 13 minutes. Even huge projects are only a series of little projects that can be all lined up and readily vanquished when taken one at a time—even just one a day.
Overwhelming projects (that stuffed basement or the messy garage) or hopeful goals and new habits (like exercising and eating better) can loom like little Caesars in our emotions. The imagined exaggeration sets up like concrete in our mind. And so we carry around the dread like a low grade chronic virus. But, happily, it is possible to diffuse that root dread simply by a change in thought and thereby move on to some real victory laps.
Step number one is to heave that dread out of one's mind onto paper. Sit and make a list of absolutely everything that looms out there as a "someday" project / hope / habit, but that has eluded you—where your someday never came. Don't be afraid to make a long list, even 100 things, if it comes to that. Thoroughly empty your mind of every little dread, in every direction. Add even the things you thought you'd never get to.
Making a list accomplishes a number of vital things:
- It frees up your emotions. The list—not you—now carries the weight of it all.
- It clarifies what it is that you actually want done, and moves it all out of grey fog into hotly spotlighted specifics.
- It enables you to evaluate on paper whether the project (or even parts of the project) is (or are) something you should do or not do. Some jobs don't need to be done (at least, not by you). They, at one time, had an emotional lure, which is now gone. You may be able to give away half-started efforts, or trash them all together. Cross them off your list. Tsk. Tsk. Phew! Freedom!
- It allows you to use small chunks of time wisely. When you have a free 10 minutes you don't have to waste any of it wondering what to do. You go look at your list and, presto, you're ON IT. That mini-project gets done in a wrinkle of time that you hadn't anticipated having.
- And it gives you the joy of crossing off each task on your list. Each time you draw a line through a project it spurs you on to draw through another item, and then yet another.
Chip, chip, chip. Just like digging out the Panama Canal. It did get done!