Even those who do a lot get stuck in procrastinating on important tasks and get overwhelmed and stressed. Although encouraging yourself to get started sounds like a good idea, it’s more like telling a sad person to be happy now. What you need is an approach that works with your psyche rather than fighting it.
When using this perfect approach against procrastination, you will bypass all internal resistance and get yourself back to work almost effortlessly. What’s more, it only takes 10 seconds to apply and actually works for everyone.
The Anti-postpone formula
The formula to take action is simple: ask yourself if you can make a micro-dedication.
A micro-dedication is so small and simple that you tend to say “yes” to it, even if you don’t feel like it.
For example, a woman who postpones the cleaning of the house may ask, “What if I take two minutes for the desk alone?” It seems as if it doesn’t achieve anything, right? But something changes inside, which tends to make her take more action.
We all know it. You may not be in the mood for anything. But once you’ve started, it’s going to happen on its own. The trick is not to wait for inspiration to come, but to take small steps that make us move. Then ask yourself, “Could I do something more?”
Let’s see how you can use this simple formula to address the four main reasons for procrastination: fear, surprise, insecurity, and perfectionism.
One way to overcome your fears is exposure therapy. You slowly expose yourself to the things you fear in a safe environment.
For example, you may be afraid to speak in public and may wonder: Can I talk to some good friends in my own living room about what I like? Because it’s safe, you’d be more willing to do this exercise. The exercise builds up your confidence every step of the way. You can then ask yoursefl, “Can I do it even if there is one stranger in that group?”
The key is not to remove the comfort zone, but to enlarge the zone. Start with something that’s just a little uncomfortable and build it up further, so your confidence grows.
The feeling of being overwhelmed or overcharged comes when you focus on nothing but the big picture.
It is important to dream big and get inspired. But if you focus purely on that, it all seems to become too much. For this, the experts recommend dividing things into smaller bites and big goals in small steps.
Let’s say you want to improve your health and feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to do and break your goals down into smaller goals. Ask yourself, “could I focus on eating a healthy breakfast this week?”
By tackling the priorities one by one, you’re more likely to develop new habits. And when something is a habit, you can pick up on other aspects so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
Another thing that promotes procrastination is the lack of focus on the next step. The uncertainty makes you doubt which option would be the best.
Sometimes the only way to really move forward is just to make a choice. Try one thing first and then look for feedback and adjust your direction where necessary. After all, you can’t steer a stationary car.
If you’re unsure about your next career steps, why explore your options by trying various activities? For example: Can I take part in an evening as a mentor somewhere? Could I take a cooking course? Could I write an article on a topic that is close to my heart?
Even if none of this will be your career, you can still gain insight into yourself. The key is that a micro-dedication towards a possible “right” choice, in the long run, can take away your uncertainty.
It is essential to do the things you do well, but you may also give yourself room for error. Just as a baby learns to walk, you won’t hole-in-one all the balls. And that’s fine.
Tim Ferriss gave himself room to write two worthless pages a day. This micro-dedication determined both the number of pages (maximum two) and the permission not to be perfect.
You can do the same. Ask yourself: “Can I do five minutes of work here that turns out to be unnecessary in the end?
Paradoxically, taking the pressure off to be perfect is exactly what makes your work so good. It’s the key to leaving room for error and allowing creative expression that doesn’t necessarily have to go through the quality filter. Then look back at what you’ve done later with an eye for improvement.
If you use this fantastic delay prevention approach, you can notice change very quickly. The transformation comes from building momentum and forms a world of difference after a few weeks or months. The key is to start dedicating yourself again today to little things you are guaranteed to say “yes” to.
Now choose something you are delaying and think of micro-dedications to help yourself get started. Just enough to get you moving and see what kind of magic emerges from the small successes that pave the way to your greatest breakthrough.