Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Have you ever had a dream that you wanted to get started on, or an important task on your to-do list, and yet you keep procrastinating? Same, girl. Me too. ALL THE TIME. It’s so easy to have big dreams (mine is becoming an author) that you tell yourself you will do someday, and yet you’re no closer to that goal becoming a reality today than you were 5 years ago. We do the same thing in a smaller way when we have important tasks on our to-do list, and we never get around to them unless they happen to have a deadline attached to them. I mean, we all know that last-minute panic right before the deadline, don’t we? Can I just say… we were created for more than this. I know you hate the feeling of guilt and shame about not reaching those goals… again. When you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that we keep picking up the pieces of our dashed pride and trying yet again to exercise or lose 10 lbs after the 34th failure. Why don’t more of us just give up? I can only gather that the reason we keep trying is that there is a small voice deep inside that keeps saying, “you were made for more than this. You can’t quit. You have to try again.” So we get back on that treadmill. But because we didn’t change anything, we know deep down that we’re going to end up in the same place we are in now when our willpower runs out. We don’t have to live like this. I want to share with you a few tips that have completely changed the way I approach getting unstuck on a project or task. What we often call lazyness is more often simply paralysis because we don’t know how to move forward.
Inspire Yourself. When I have a new project I know I want to accomplish, I like to find podcasts, YouTube videos, and Pinterest articles to get me inspired. As a new mom, I spend a lot of time nursing. In the mornings, I was spending my nursing time watching youtube videos about home decor, and then found myself inspired to redecorate my home, go thrifting, and paint. While I love decorating, what I really needed my mind to be on was learning to blog. What if I watched videos about blogging instead? I thought. It worked! By the time nap time came around, I was in the blogging mindset and could jump right into writing.
Don’t waste your precious time getting in the zone. Use your commute, gym time, morning prep, or housework time to listen to audiobooks, courses, or podcasts that will get you in the zone so that when the time comes to get to work, you’re ready to go. This also gives me an opportunity to find answers to questions I have about the process before my work time. I can study whatever I need to before I sit down to work. This is a lifesaver when you have limited nap times!
Write Out What Needs to Happen from Start to Finish. One of the main things that keeps us back from accomplishing our goals is that we don’t know what the our next step is. It’s just a nebulous goal like “write a book”. Sit down and make a list of the main steps to accomplishing your goal. If your goal is to write a book, write out all the steps that will need to happen from the time you sit down to write to the publication celebration party. Then take the first three tasks and break them down into small steps that feel attainable to you. If it requires making a decision or researching something, make that a task (“Research what to look for in a publishing agent”). These should feel small enough that they don’t feel overwhelming to sit down and do right now.
Set a Deadline. Write deadlines for each of the tasks on your list. Then create self-imposed deadlines for each task. I like to start a 20 minute timer, and tell myself “Work undistracted on this task for 20 minutes. It’s okay if you don’t make progress. You just have focus.” Sometimes I’m just having a hard time getting in the zone, or other times there are decisions or research that need to happen. But disciplining myself to work on it just 20 minutes at a time helps me get past the barriers that keep me from making real progress.
Create systems to implement new habits. Check out my blog posts on habits, for more tips about choosing effective habits.
Find Community or Accountability. Lastly, it can be hard to go at a big project by yourself. We were created by God to be in community, and there is so much encouragement and inspiration in community! Sometimes there are official communities designed to encourage you in a particular field, other times you may just want to find a friend who is willing to go to a coffee shop once a week with you and work on your respective goals. Whatever it looks like, finding community can make all the difference!
Lastly, if you haven’t read the book Unstuck, by Matt Perman, you definitely should check it out. I’ve read so many productivity books, and what I love about this one is that while most books focus on tips like how to prioritize (which are super helpful in their own right), this one addresses some of the deeper issues, like why we don’t do the productivity hacks we already know… the reasons that we get stuck.
What big task or project are you going to tackle next? Tell me in the comments below so I can cheer you on!