procrastination

How to get unstuck and started (even if you love to procrastinate)

We’ve all been there. You have. I have. Stuck.

Maybe you need to get your sales up or write a book. Maybe you need to deal with a staffing issue (or you need staff). Whatever the reason…being stuck sucks.

The good news is there are hacks that’ll get you unstuck, moving and productive again.

Before we get to that…

Advice is like water. Everyone needs it, but we don’t give it much credit for making life happen. Ask a person in the middle of a desert if water is “helpful” and you’ll get a different story. Why?

When you recognize the “cost” of being stuck the solution is much, much more valuable. So, before we dive into solutions I know work, think for a minute about the alternative. What is the real cost of being stuck?

If you don’t pick up the phone and call the client back. If you don’t create a deadline and start working on that book. If you don’t create those emails and ask people for the sale.

Procrastination has a cost.

Feel it? Good. Now, let’s move to getting you unstuck.

Ten ways to get unstuck, moving and productive again.

1. Get real

Think how many decisions you’ve to make in your life. In a year’s time this will seen minor, so why not just do it?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” —Churchill

2. Take a break

When you focus your attention on a task completely unrelated, your mind can return to the original task refreshed and with a new perspective.

“Never taking a break from thought work actually reduces your ability to be creative” —Kimberly Elsbach, UC-Davis

3. Get physical

Stand, stretch, go for a run, walk your dog—physical movement increases the flow in your circulatory system, releases feel-good neurotransmitters (like Dopamine, and Serotonin) and puts you in a positive mood.

“Exercise is like fertilizer for the brain…it’s so good it’s like Miracle Gro.” Dr. John Ratey, Harvard.

4. Stop Doing list

What is filling your time AND holding you back? Make a list (Jim Collins calls it your ‘Stop Doing list’)—one of the fastest ways to get started is to stop doing those low-value tasks that are chewing up your time.

“The “stop doing” list became an enduring cornerstone of my annual New Year resolutions.” —Jim Collins, author From Good to Great

5. Change your environment

Clear the desk clutter, work from a local cafe, use paper instead of computer—sometimes, a change is as good as a start.

“As a species, humans have evolved to respond to novelty, once we’ve become accustomed to something, we may grow immune to its effects. —Hugh Thompson, Ph.D

6. Be kind to yourself

It’s easy to blame yourself—don’t. You’ve been here before, you are capable and you will succeed. Have faith you will get through this period, just like every other time.

“Practicing self-compassion provides us with the kind voice and warm embrace we need in difficult times so we courageously do the right thing.” Forbes

7. Let go of the past

It’s hard to get started when your attention is on what didn’t work in the past. Take a deep breath, let it go and focus on what you want to create in the today, for the future.

“Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think.” Tim Pychyl, Ph.D

8. Get advice

Usually we can’t see the forest for the trees when we’re too close to the problem. Ask a good friend, hire a coach – even ask on-line. And then listen.

“When you ask for advice, people do not think less of you; they think you are smarter.” —Maurice Schweitzer, PhD of the Wharton School

9. Create a deadline

A little tension (like a deadline) can move mountains and end procrastination. Give yourself a Decision Deadline (for the full project or a practical solution) and stick to it.

“Deadlines allow us to clarify our thoughts and create an action plan.” — Dan Ariely, Ph.D

10. Create tiny wins

Frustrated about sales? Call one prospect. Want to lose weight? Start walking 20 minutes a day. Need to apologize? Write a card. Any forward motion is a tiny win in the right direction.

“When you feel good about what you did, your brain will change. It will want to do the behavior again in the future. That leads to making the habit stronger.” —B.J. Fogg, Ph.D

Ten ways to get moving. All work. Only one question…what are you doing here (get started).

Hugh Culver

Bio: Hugh Culver co-created the world’s most expensive tours (to the South Pole), started five companies, and teaches experts the business of speaking. Read his blog on the business of speaking. Follow him on Twitter @hughculver