We all have times when our motivation slips, when we just don’t seem to be able to keep moving forward at full speed. Fortunately there is an easy habit to adopt that can end your procrastination habit and keep you motivated and on track…
First, you need to identify the areas you normally lack motivation in – the areas you tend to procrastinate about most. For some people it will be work-related issues, for some it will be relationship issues, while some will be forever putting off tasks around the house. Try to picture what you’re putting off right now, or to hear someone telling you what needs to be looked after – or simply go with the 800-pound gorilla in your headspace, that one HUGE issue you’ve been avoiding seemingly forever.
Before going any further, is it a small task you’ve been putting off, or a large one? If small, do YOU really need to do it? If your spouse is on your case because the lawn hasn’t been mowed in a month, or you’re upset because the car is filthy, why let it intrude on your mindset at all? Find a local teen who could use the $20 and pay THEM to do it. Don’t want to be forever washing dishes? Hold a garage sale & use the proceeds to buy a dishwasher – there are probably a lot of things around the house you’d happily part with if it meant no more washing dishes by hand, right?
So clear out the inconsequential things, and anything else you can easily outsource. The same goes for your business if you’re an entrepreneur – find someone on a one-off, temporary or permanent part-time basis to look after the parts of the business you just can’t stand. After all, when doing something you hate doing, how good a job are you liable to do?
Now we’re down to the bigger items, the important ones that no one else can do for you. In every case, you’ll have prioritized them beneath something you’d much rather be doing. You’re not spending enough time with your spouse because you’d rather be golfing. You’re not getting things done at work because the beautiful weather has enticed you into heading to the beach. You’re not writing that report because it’s easier to veg out in front of the TV. The books aren’t up to date because, well, bookkeeping is boring and you’d rather be doing ANYTHING else!
Here’s the trick… Take out a sheet of paper and divide it into 3 columns. In the first column, list the tasks you’re putting off right now followed by the tasks you routinely put off. In the 2nd column, put a completion date and/or time for each. For the things you’re already procrastinating over, set a firm, reasonable completion point. For those that routinely compromise your motivation, set a relative time – i.e. within a day, within 48 hours, etc, of it first needing to be done again.
Now in the third column, assign yourself an appropriate reward for meeting or beating your deadline. Make sure your reward is in proportion to the task – something you can do in a couple of hours might warrant your favorite dessert, while re-shingling the house may deserve a weekend away at that swank new hotel you heard about. If you’re an executive or run your own business and your husband is complaining you’re never home, clear your schedule for a 3-day weekend and book a romantic getaway where your only focus is HIM – and once it’s all arranged, reward yourself with a new outfit and TWO new pairs of shoes for the trip. If your wife is really upset with your dingy kitchen and always on about getting new cupboards and counter tops, secure her agreement that as soon as the kitchen is updated the next renovation is setting up your den the way you want it.
And if you’re single, the same rules apply… You never invite a date over without cleaning up the house or apartment first, right? So modify that slightly to boost your motivation – agree you’ll keep the place clean by not going out to socialize unless it IS clean. If you’re procrastinating in your love life, not really getting out to meet new people, tie your reward in with what you love to do. If you love to golf, attend social events at your club, and those at other local courses – you need to attend one event for each time you want to go play a round. Love going to the ballet or live theater? Invite people you know to a pre- or post-event party, and ask each to bring a +1 who is also a fan. Love the opera? Football games more your style? Make it a rule you’ll take someone new each time you go – or you can’t go.
In every one of these cases, getting your reward will be enough to power you through the fears, lack of energy or procrastination habit and keep your motivation strong, keep you moving forward at full-speed. And when you’re getting enough of what YOU want to do and what YOU want to have, your friends and family will swear that motivation is your middle name and leave them wondering where you get all that time and energy – but don’t worry, I’ll keep your secret… 😉