We know we should do that project or piece of work but we resist. We may even be bold and get it into our To Do list, maybe even attach a high priority number to it, but still fail to start. Why? We are all pretty clever about avoiding pain and some projects have pain written all over them. Maybe we may have to think – gasp! Or maybe, it is going to require a lot of time and we feel too time poor to get into it. It could be it is complex and will require a lot of effort, sapping our strength for other competing easier projects. Hopefully, we are not just plain lazy, like Dilbert’s cartoon character "Wally" – a serial work avoider.
Our inner dialogue could also be an issue. We are talking ourselves out of doing the work because of what we are saying to ourselves about the prospect. Here are some ides on changing the inner conversation to slip the chains of procrastination and assist us to get the hard bits completed.
"I need to do it perfectly"
This is a great one in japan, because Japanese culture really emphasizes doing things correctly and has low tolerance for mistakes. We can say instead, "I will get this project started and give myself sufficient time to work on it, so it is done correctly".
"I have to"
Our feelings of resistance increase whenever the words "have to" appear. We want to demonstrate our fierce independence by showing that project who is boss and reject that "have to" jive. Sadly we don’t start either, so all a bit self-defeating in the end. So let’s take back control and say instead "I choose to".
"This project is overwhelming"
This is the "eat the elephant" or "eat the live frog" metaphor – we are put off by the size or difficulty of the task at hand. Our mind is doing a quick calculation about all the other things we have to do and one project sucking up all the time is not computing. Let’s change our focus from contemplating the project in it’s entirety and say to ourselves "Where is the best place to start".
"I have no time for lunch"
Occasionally, this may happen, but if it is your regular excuse for not getting projects done, then we need to confront this head on. Change the language to yourself and say instead, "My work effectiveness will be much, much better after a break, so I will take lunch and then really get into it".
"I’ll never get this finished"
The prospect of completion is so daunting we run up the white flag immediately. We can see an ocean of pain spreading out before us and we want to delay the onset. Rather, let’s talk ourselves into it, by noting, "I know once I get started, I will be on a roll".
"There is no way I can succeed"
This is another one of those "all or nothing" choices we make. If I can’t do it perfectly, better not to do it at all. Better to avoid failure and having to confront my inner demons by not starting. Switch gears and use a kaizen thought process, "I will give it my best shot, get it going and work on improving it along the way".
"No one else is working as hard as me"
Being such a legend in the workplace, I deserve to be cut some slack around here. I can cruise for a bit, because I am more valuable than the rest of the crew. Hello - give me a break, pleeeeease! Look at it differently, "This is my chance to take a leadership role and encourage others to swallow their frog".
"I don’t know where to begin"
A solid rock face wall is confronting and looking straight up, it is a long way to the top. Switch thoughts and say, "Get the hard part done and then the rest will be easy".
"I hate this part of the job"
We know ourselves and we know our pain and pleasure points. Let’s combine them and think, "Once I finish this task, I will reward myself!"
Change our inner conversation and we change our productivity. Remember, time is limited and so we can’t do everything, but we can choose to do the most important thing every day. Let’s talk ourselves into it.