We all struggle with procrastination when we have to meet a deadline. Whether it’s helping a close friend with party preparations or working on a work presentation, it always seems inevitable how the highs of starting a new project begin to dwindle until eventually, you run out of steam and leave your task hanging.
There are times when you just want to throw in the towel. If you find yourself making excuses — "Oh, I can't find the time," "I'm trying too many things, and it's overwhelming," "I'm not immediately good at this!" — you’re not alone! Thankfully, here are five pro tips that anyone who has trouble starting their internal engine can use to break through your rut.
1. Wake up and start on your acknowledged task
Are you playing the "I don't have time" card? Eliminate that notion by starting on your task as soon as you wake up in the morning, no matter how hard it may be. Your mind and body are at their most primed upon waking, so use that time to tune in to bigger possibilities. When you focus on your goals early on, you'll feel more set up for the day ahead. Start your day with intention and make your goals a priority.
2. Think big
When you're lacking motivation, try focusing on the bigger picture. Remind yourself of what you’re trying to achieve, what your long-term goal is, and how good you're going to feel when you get there. When you're focused on the immediate task you're committed to that day, it can feel like a total drag, making you feel like you would rather do something else. Instead, sit down and tell yourself that any present discomforts are all part and parcel of the journey towards something truly special.
3. Embrace slow and steady
Remember the tale of tortoise and the hare tale? The same principle applies here. While the allegory is by no means meant to be disparaging towards fast workers, there's no use in starting out quick only for you to be distracted and wind up not finishing your project altogether. When we make too many changes or try to take on multiple tasks all at once, we end up putting ourselves at risk of getting overwhelmed. Going “slow and steady” is all about doing things at your own pace and taking things step by step.
4. Self-reflect and give yourself space
If you've hit a wall and it feels like you're not getting anywhere, take a break. Give yourself some time to recognise the progress you've already made and allow the new things you've been learning to sink in. Taking a step back will also allow you to analyse what’s worked and what hasn’t. Most importantly, it’s about knowing when to back off after working your butt off!
5. Visualise your end-product
We tend to struggle with mentally seeing our efforts result in success but learning how to visualise the end of your journey can instil hope and reinvigorate your senses, keeping you optimistic right up till the end. It’s also important to envision your emotional receipt; imagine how good delivering a job well done would feel! Pride and satisfaction are all positive feelings and you can leverage on them in advance to carry you through the hard parts of your journey.
Always aim to complete what you started and never leave a job half-finished. You don't want to be jumping from project to project and waste precious time not achieving anything. It shouldn’t be at all surprising that being disciplined takes discipline, but having a little cheat-sheet to guide you through certainly doesn’t hurt!