I am re-issuing some old articles as
blog entries partly in order to get a new audience for them, and partly
in order to get all my articles in one place. This is the second.
I’d be willing to bet that you, along with every other person reading this article, has at least one important project that would make an enormous difference to your life — if only you could get round to doing it!
In fact if you are procrastinating over only one important project you are a quite exceptional person. Most of us could produce a whole list of things we are procrastinating about. Not only do we procrastinate about things we’d really much prefer not to have to do at all (such as getting our tax returns in on time), but we even manage to procrastinate about things we are fully committed to and enjoy doing. Most authors love writing or they wouldn’t be authors, but “writer’s block” is so common that the phrase has become proverbial.
Strangely enough, for all the havoc that it wreaks in people’s lives, procrastination is extremely easy to overcome. All you have to do is to use the “I’ll just get the file out” technique and you will find that it will vanish out of your life.
Here’s how it works. When the inner voice of conscience tells you that you really must get moving on that important report, if you are like most people your usual reaction will be to find something else to do (such as tidying your pencils, making a cup of coffee, going and chatting to your friends, etc. etc.).
Instead say “I’ll just get the file out”. Once you’ve got the file out you have a choice: you can either put the file away again, or you can do some work on the report. It’s up to you. Nine times out of ten you will probably do at least some work on the report. And if you do the same thing the following day and then the following, the report will be completed before you know it.
This technique can be applied to virtually anything that you find yourself resisting. Yesterday afternoon (a Sunday) I felt that all I wanted to do was to veg out in front of the TV. But I had a whole load of tasks which I’d promised myself I’d do that afternoon, which included washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, going for a walk and writing some more of my book. I got myself moving by saying “I’ll just fill the washing up bowl with hot water”. Magically I found the washing up was done. Then I said “I’ll just get the lawnmower out of the shed”. Again magically I found the lawn had been mown. Then I said “I’ll just walk to the end of the front drive”. Fifty minutes later I got back from a long, fast walk through the woods and fields. And finally I said “I’ll just open the Word file for my book”. A thousand words later I felt very virtuous indeed!
There will be days when I say “I’ll just open the Word file for my book” and that will be all I do. But that doesn’t matter. The important thing is that I did something. And that will keep the project alive and developing.
Hey, how did this article get written? All I said was “I’ll just write the headline for the next article”!