When it comes to procrastinating, I used to say I had world class talent. There was almost nothing I couldn’t put off doing.
I’ve spent a lot of time and effort learning how to actually become productive and get tasks done started on well ahead of their deadline. That doesn’t mean I’m not pressed to finish items by the time their due, but it does mean they actually get done without me and the team having to spend the night sleeping at the office.
But instead of a comprehensive guide to stop procrastinating today, I just want to focus on the start to your day. There is a lot of advice from business leaders, including Brian Tracy in Eat That Frog, that tells you to start each day with the thing you want to do the least or is the most difficult.
While that may be fine and well for some people, it’s terrible advice for the professional procrastinator. I’ve personally tried it and hated it. The result was me sleeping later, doing everything I possibly could to avoid starting my work day.
The very advice that was supposed to make my day more relaxing and productive by getting that undesirable task out of the way actually made it more stressful and less productive.
So here’s what I’ve found to work a whole lot better. I start each day with something easy. It allows me to ease into my work day and get something productive done. I can look forward to getting started on my work because I know that my first task of the day is one I can easily handle and will enjoy doing.
I start with just 30 minutes of uninterrupted work on my easy project. And that is enough to overcome the “hump” and to get going.
Once you’ve gotten started on work and you’ve done something easy, it really doesn’t seem too daunting to start on that task or project you’ve been avoiding.
Let me give you an experiment to do. Go turn on your faucet and turn the water to a temperature that is just a little too hot to be comfortable for you to touch… not scalding – we don’t want you to get burned, but just uncomfortably warm. Measure the temperature of the water and write it down.
Now go ahead and turn the faucet on again, but this start the water lukewarm and slowly increase the temperature of the water, just nudging it up little by little. Keep going until slowly until you get back to the point where the water is again uncomfortably warm. Write down the temperature of the water again.
What you’ve probably found is that the temperature of several degrees higher the second time around because you allowed your body to acclimate and adjust to the slowly increasing water temperature.
You could just as easily do this experiment in the shower in the morning.
This same principle can be the same for you in your business. If you can get started with something easy each day, it’s like turning on the water at a comfortable temperature. Once you’re already started, tackling the difficult task won’t seem so bad each day and you’ll get it done without stressing out about it.
You can look forward to your day in the morning because you know it’s going to start with something you like or don’t mind doing. And really, half the battle to getting things done is to get them started.
Give it a try for a week and let me know what you think.