Procrastination is a nasty thing. It lives in the deepest, darkest corners of our minds and comes out to sabotage us when we least expect it. Okay – maybe we expect it. If you’re used to procrastinating you know exactly when it will rear its ugly head, and it’s mostly at the worst times.
If your thesis is due next month, if you have the perfect amount of time to yourself to finally get the house in shape, or if you are going to start training for that 5k “today” – procrastination sees this like perfect occasion to watch award-winning cat videos, catch up on a chat in your Facebook needlepoint group, or… you know the drill.
If you know you procrastinate, and you can pretty much predict your actions, it might be a relief to know that you can actually use this knowledge to your advantage. You can actually trick yourself out of procrastination in a few different ways – let us make cleaning the house an example.
You can use these methods for anything else you are procrastinating with.
As a certain person once said: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”
Mary Poppins sure knew what she was saying. We often procrastinate and do things that are more “fun”, but also distracting, time-killing and bad for us. If we find the “fun” in everyday tasks, we can find inspiration to achieve them faster.
A great way to make cleaning more fun is to get cleaning presents and gadgets for yourself. Do some research about the most effective and well-designed mops, best vacuums for pet hair , a designer jewelry organizer, or a super cute cleaning apron (yes, a lot of us have this fantasy) and go for it!
Make cleaning fun by providing yourself with the right tools! A friend’s toddler didn’t want anything to do with learning to clean – until they were presented with a toy broom that had their favorite cartoon characters printed on it. That toddler not only learned how to sweep but slept with said toy broom.
If all else fails, try gamifying your cleaning habits. 5$ for every task accomplished adds up to a great night on the town or a new piece of clothing fairly quickly if you keep on trying!
See the child in yourself and allow them to play. And don’t take cleaning so seriously!
Don’t punish yourself if you’re unable to get to an important goal. In a lot of cases, that just makes the situation worse. In fact, a lot of us see the cleaning itself as punishment.
See it as self-care! Instead of saying “Ugh, I have to clean up under the bed today.” Think “I can finally clean up under my bed – maybe I will sleep better after all that junk and dust is gone!”
Instead of saying “Organizing the closet will take me forever and will make a huge mess – this is a never-ending project…”, picture in your head the ultimate outcome of all of your hard work.
Don’t get stuck in a project, keep the end in mind! And remember that you are doing it for yourself, not because someone else is making you. Cleaning, like many other tasks that we procrastinate on, is actually acts of self-care.
Take a moment to think about why you might think that you don’t deserve a clean closet, an immaculate kitchen or a clean floor. You do! You deserve the best!
You don’t have to do it all today – seriously, you don’t. A huge part of failing is setting our goals to an impossible level. And when your goal is so high that you can’t even hope to achieve it, you become distracted and use that as an excuse to not accomplish ANYTHING at all.
You couldn’t get up at 5 and go to the gym today? Bummer. But are you using that fact to give yourself an excuse to order a pizza and stay home? A burger for lunch today and a promise that tomorrow you’ll wake up at 5?
We know you are capable of greatness, but greatness is accomplished one step at a time. Maybe today, you only have to take a walk during lunch? Or a quick 30-minute jog after the kids go to sleep?
Setting goals that you can accomplish will make you motivated to do more. Cleaning your house is similar. Don’t go all Marie Kondo to your house after work when all you want to do is relax. It will kill your resolve and make you depressed.
- Set a 30-minute “sprint” when you pick a project and work on it
- Stop when it’s time to stop. Don’t keep going. This way, you’ll actually be excited about starting again and won’t burn out.
- Start a Pinterest of how you want your space to look like. It will help you imagine what will happen after you’re done with your project.
Finally, when working on a project, even little by little, know that there is an end to it. Remember that! It’s important.
Meeting goals is just a step in being happy – one of many.