You want to organize your home. You know you’ve got the ability. You know it’s not a particularly unpleasant task. You know you’ll feel great when you’re done.
But you keep putting it off.
Every time you think about the task, it becomes more daunting. Each time you feel that “now” might be a good time, “later” seems so much better. You even feel anxious when you think about getting started.
And time passes.
Procrastin-a-a-tion — it’s making your house wait.
But it’s not unstoppable. Today’s post is about beating procrastination at its own game.
First, we need to understand what procrastination is. It’s not a character flaw.
It’s a habit.
Habits are the strongest drivers of human behavior. Behaviors are repeated and reinforced. Habit wear grooves in the pathways of the mind and make the behaviors routine, unthinking, automatic. If you somehow don’t what you are in the habit of doing, something seems off. You feel anxious until you remember to brush your teeth, let in the dog, put on your pants, whatever. Habits are stealthy and strong and they affect both how you think and how you feel.
Every time you put off doing what you wanted to do, you reinforced that “putting off” behavior. You reinforced and strengthened your ability to put off the task. You made putting it off routine, unthinking automatic. The idea of stopping putting it off makes you a little anxious now. You’ve gotten into the habit of procrastinating.
And that’s why procrastination seems so difficult to overcome. But it only seems difficult. It’s actually quite easy — you beat it at its own game by creating a new habit.
Simply take a habit you already have and hook your new “organize my place” habit to it.
For example, you might have a habit of arriving home from work every day. All you need to do now is make a habit, every time you come home from work, of spending a little time organizing.
Start by setting a timer and organizing for two minutes every day when you get home from work (or after you brush your teeth, or let in the dog or put on your pants).
Just two minutes. Easy. No stress. You don’t even have to do anything. Just come home and set the timer and look around and what you’d like to organize. If this suggestion makes you feel anxious (don’t be embarrassed if it does), just come home and set the timer. Don’t do any organizing. After a few days, the anxiety will go away.
You might think that you won’t accomplish anything in two minutes, but you actually accomplish everything. Once the habit is established, it’s only a matter of time until your goals are reached.
Two minutes will become five minutes and then half an hour. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment every day and be energized by the progress. Positive changes will snowball until your place is just the way you want it to be. Then you’ll switch to maintenance mode–using your “just arrived home” habit to keep your place perfect or make refinements. Or maybe tackle other things you’ve been putting off.
And don’t believe that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. When you start a new job, does it take you 21 days to get in the habit of going to the new place? Of course not. It takes only a day or two to create a habit. 21 days is just a myth.
So, feel free to start a habit today to counteract your procrastination habit.
And if you’re thinking tomorrow would be a better day to begin…how about starting today? And put off procrastinating until tomorrow?