If you’re faced with a difficult assignment or a job you really don’t want to do (like a tricky phone call), then it’s almost inevitable that you’re going to fall victim to the dreaded procrastination.
Here are just some of the displacement activities you might end up doing. (I know, because I’m done them all at some point…)
- Fill the washing machine
- Do some filing
- Clean the cat’s litter tray
- Tidy a cupboard
- Phone a friend for a chat
- Go for a walk
- Sort out your expenses
- Make a shopping list
- Hunt for a DVD that’s gone missing
And so on.
You’ve now got a tidy house and you’ve completed some useful chores but you haven’t got any nearer to tackling the problem in hand. In fact, you feel worse because half the day has gone by and you’ve still got that feeling of dread hanging over you.
Here’s an important thing to know next time you are paralysed by procrastination. When you start to tackle the job you are putting off, actually DOING it is never as bad as you thought it was going to be.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve put off starting a particularly tricky writing project. And every time I finally got down to starting it, I asked myself: “Why was I agonising over it for so long? It wasn’t difficult at all.”
How to get started
A good way to start is by doing the really easy bits first. I’m a copywriter, so if I’m having difficulty knowing how to start tackling a corporate brochure, I will type in the contact details for the back cover. All I’ve done is copy the address, phone number and web address but I’ve at least got something on screen. I’ve made a start.
Remember, in nearly every case it’s the thought of the task that’s difficult – the actual doing isn’t hard at all.