Here are ten tips for overcoming that daunting task you’ve been avoiding, based on science:
1. Pick Your Poison.
The key to beating procrastination is focus. We often give ourselves too many things to do and become overwhelmed. Start by choosing just ONE thing that you’ve been procrastinating and make a commitment to complete that task in the next week.
2. Start today.
Once you’ve narrowed it down to one task, you must take immediate action. Today. If it feels daunting or you don’t think you have enough time to complete the task, do the Five Minute Miracle below.
3. Five Minute Miracle.
This is one of the best techniques for people who struggle with procrastination. The Five Minute Miracle involves asking yourself; “Hmm, what action can I take in less than five minutes TODAY that moves this forward even the tiniest bit?” Once you’ve identified a small action, set a timer for five minutes and spend five minutes working on the task. Research shows that once you start something, you’re much more likely to finish it. This is due to a psychological phenomenon called the Zeigarnik effect, which says that unfinished tasks are more likely to get stuck in your memory. (This is also why our mind gets stuck in a loop thinking about all the things we haven’t yet completed.) Remember: Small action is still action. Five minutes can make all the difference.