How To Stop Procrastinating By Shifting Your Perspective

I started this personal blog in 2005 on blogger.com. It went through dozens of iterations and migrations on different servers over the past decade and was a stop-and-start effort that was de-prioritised after my corporate banking job and side business hustles. Yet it’s a key part of allowing me  to have a platform to share my thoughts in the hopes that it might help someone.

Despite my good intentions, I procrastinate when it comes to writing. Reflecting on my self-imposed barriers to blogging, I came to a realisation that I had to share for those in similar situations about how to stop procrastinating, especially when it comes to goals you have set yourself rather than what work or school dictates for you.

Let Go Of “Perfection” and Aim For “Completed”

Don't Chase Perfection Into Procrastination

Whatever your idea of “perfection” may be, just accept that having high standards is a great quality to have, but perfection can be illusive and not the goal. The goal is to have something done, completed, published, shared – and know that in most cases, you have the option to come back and tweak it if you like.

I used to think that each of my posts must be perfectly crafted and more epic than the last. Then I’d think of how much effort it would take to produce a masterfully written article and that would paralyse me before I even started writing.

When I look back at when I started writing, I would just spill my thoughts onto the page and my friends would enjoy the rawness of my confessions and ramblings and we’d have a great chat about it later.

That’s when I realised the aim was to have something completed, done and dusted and move on to the next exciting project. Now, in order to motivate yourself to do something, you’ve got to learn to love it or remind yourself of what makes it fun for you.

Take Action On Micro-Tasks

One of my bestfriends, Anna, is a talented freelance photographer who documents her many travels around the world but delays sharing her photos. As an artist, she wants to curate and edit the best of her photos as it reflects on her skills. That’s great, but it means we only see one photo every two weeks or even less often.

Just organising her photos into albums is a huge task, let alone picking out the best, editing then sharing on her social platforms. In the end, we just want to see photos, edited or not, to enjoy seeing experiences in her life through her perspective.

I suggested that she just start uploading one album after she’s organised it into a cloud-based photo storage service of her choosing and let people browse, rather than waiting until she has everything categorised and edited. There’s a whole lot of free services out there with a decent amount of free storage space – Google Photos, Flickr, One Drive, Box, Dropbox and so on.

I constantly have over 20 ideas for blog posts which overwhelms me with the amount of information I want to include in each post, and now I’ve shifted my perspective to write on smaller topics first to get the momentum going.

Starting with movie reviews is a good way to break into the habit because it’s a very focused subject, rather than broader informational pieces. I love expanding on my thoughts about the movie and including additional references to interviews, background stories, trivia and other bits I find interesting rather than a straight recommended or not review.

To do list - micro tasks on paper

A simple and effective way to help you shift your perspective to aim for a completed body of work, is to have a To Do List. I have 2 forms of To Do Lists:

  1. Macro-tasks

    I use Asana.com. I have tried and tested all the apps and web-based solutions for task management and this one is the one I’ve been able to stick with for the past 5 years because:

    a) It’s easy to dump all the links to blogging inspiration sources and references (I used to have bookmarks or have 50 tabs open at a time which is really distracting and a drain on the computer’s memory)

    b) It syncs with the phone app so I can add ideas when I’m away from the computer

    c) It sends me email reminders or phone notifications when a task is nearing its deadline

    d) I can easily share projects and tasks with others if I want to delegate anything and we keep track of it

    e) It’s simple enough to use and not overwhelming with other features I don’t need right now

  2. Micro-tasks

    Mine are on a blank piece of A6 paper with the day’s date and 3-5 of the most important tasks that I want to complete on that day. I also use old business cards, anything that size so it visually helps keep the tasks small and condensed.

    It gives me such satisfaction crossing a line through a task when I’m done and seeing all the completed ones on that piece of paper.

    Sure, there are some days (more than I’d like) where tasks are carried over to the next day or two. I don’t stress about it because that’s just counter-productive and brings unnecessary negative energy to the process. Be kind to yourself.

Do the Smallest Action Possible

Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try - YODA

Open a blank Word document or WordPress post or whatever you choose – and write one sentence. Just write one. Maybe write one paragraph. Are there more thoughts coming to your mind? Just keep going then. Don’t worry about editing it or what people will think. Just let the words flow from your brain through your fingers. Doesn’t that feel good?

Do one push up. Just try it. All you need is a floor, right? Then maybe after that one push up, you might think, well I’m already down here, I might as well see if I can do another one. Maybe see how many you can do until you give up. At least you over-delivered on your goal of doing just one push up right?

Wash just one dish in the sink. Put away one item that isn’t where it should be. Hmmm, might as well wash those other dishes while i’m here. It will only take a second to put that freshly laundered shirt in the closet. I could put on some music and put away the rest of the clothes.

There are lots of books and articles showing research that you can trick your brain into getting motivated to do what you may think are mindless chores. The most effective one seems to be when you take the smallest action possible and realise that it’s not so bad so you can do a bit more and then a bit more and then well you’ve almost washed all the dishes in the sink so why not do the last 2?

Be Mindful

When I started on my journey of personal development about 6 or 7 years ago, I came across a concept called “mindfulness”. To me, in its simplest and easiest to understand form, it’s just focusing on what you’re currently doing.

That sounds obvious, you may say, but how many times have you found yourself not remembering if you’ve locked the front door or turned off the light or whatever it is you routinely do, because your mind was wandering?

Mindfulness teaches us to be present. In terms of getting things done, it’s shifted the way I see household chores and how much more productive I’ve become as a result.

My husband absolutely hates folding clothes and putting them away. He will do every other chore in the house, even bleaching and scrubbing the toilet and entire bathroom if he can avoid folding clothes.

I learned to appreciate the things around me and the purpose they served in making my life easier and better. I’d wash dishes and focus on getting them clean in the most efficient way, grateful for their role in serving delicious meals.

While doing laundry and putting away clothes, I’ll put on some jazz and practice the art of folding that I learned from Marie Kondo to help maximise my storage space and keep things neat and tidy.

It was from Kondo that I learned about giving thanks to and respecting my belongings for the purpose they served in my life. I started treating my possessions with much more care and gratitude. They deserved to be placed neatly into a suitable space, their home, rather than thrown into a corner of the bedroom or hastily shoved into a disorganised drawer.

AFTER - My organised pants drawer filled to the max, but there's another 8 pairs needing to be stored elsewhere
AFTER – My organised pants drawer filled to the max, but there’s another 8 pairs needing to be stored elsewhere

Document versus Create

I heard this advice from one of my virtual mentors as I call them, Gary Vaynerchuck. He talks about just starting whatever it is you’ve been wanting to do, and approach it in a way where you’re documenting rather than creating.

This way you’ve got more of a framework, a guidance that allows you just to retell your experiences rather than set yourself a challenge to bring something to life out of nothing.

Funnily enough, this is how I shifted my perspective a few months ago, where I realised I needed to document my life for my own degenerating memory’s sake. It was a key mindset shift in how to stop procrastinating on the things I set myself to do.

Unselfishly, it allowed my friends to remember the good times we had and was a more refined version of my journal that my future family can look back on if they wanted to.

I’d be so fascinated to read all about my grandparents and their predecessors’ lifestyles, their stories and how we all came to be. It’s becoming more about the sharing of knowledge and storytelling than any other selfish reason I presumed I had.

Set aside your ego and allow yourself to document your life in raw form, and you will get into the habit of creating content in a more refined way.

Love the Process

Far too many times we focus on the end goal and not the journey; if there’s one revelation I’ve constantly had in my 30 something years being alive, it’s that the journey is what we should seek to enjoy.

See, when we’re born, we know the end is when we die, but death is not our goal is it? It’s to make the most of the time we have between the start and finish line of our lives. It’s to see how much fun we can have, how much we can help other people, how much we can grow as free-thinking individuals and so on.

So if you’re writing a blog post, you might be overwhelmed by making sure all the necessary elements are present and that enough people see it once you post it. But what about the growth you gain from doing research and learning more about the topic you’re writing about, and experimenting with articulating yourself in various ways?

Look at it as a free learning experience – you’re teaching yourself how to improve by practicing the theory that you could easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars paying someone else to teach you. Just keep learning by doing! Pump out quality content as often as you can.

Here’s some pumping music to hype you up (works for me anyway!)

I hope that helps you with ways on how to stop procrastinatin! Feel free to leave a comment, share to your friends or subscribe to my email notifications or any of my social profiles 🙂

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