Aka How To Stop Procrastinating
The secret to success is getting started… right? You may have heard that a lot, I mean it’s been my catchcry for a long, long time (remember this post?). But turns out, it’s much easier to talk about it, than to actually start something new. Particularly if you’ve currently got a full plate, whether that be with school, your current job, freelance work or being a parent. In that situation, finding the time and enthusiasm to get started on something new can be tough. As someone who could appear to have mountains of time to start new things, even I have major ideas on my list that every week find themselves moved over to the new week’s list, completely untouched, as I slog away on the day to day of this business. Sometimes, knowing you have a great idea or concept you want to start, but not knowing how to, can lead to a sort of paralyses where years go by and nothing has happened. But not this year, ya hear me!?
This year, as part of my focus word of evolve, I’ve decided to go with the mantra of DO YOUR IDEAS. As in, if you have one, do it. I mean, if you don’t try, you’ll never reap the possible rewards, will you? So, whether your idea is a great new blog, that photography class, a business with your friend, or even looking for a new job, this is the year for you (and me!) to stop procrastinating and get started. Here are 7 steps that I’ve found useful in the past, and just need to put into practice again!
1. Work Out What ‘It’ Is
It’s so easy to want to start something new, without being clear about what it actually is. Instead of thinking about an idea in a nebulous way, consider what it is, why you want to do it and what you are hoping to achieve. This is a great opportunity to do some research about your idea – your blog, new clothing line, amazing new business. I know from experience that if you start thinking about it in a less abstract way, you’ll be well on the way to getting started. This is also the stage in which you should choose just one new thing, because unless you have a team of people to help you execute an idea or concept, trying to do more than one new thing at once is just going overburden you and leave things unfinished. So if you’ve got a bunch of ideas (you and me both!) choose the one that you gravitate towards the most, are most qualified to do or will be the most simple for you to put into action.
2. Break It Down Into (Very) Small Steps
If every week you put on your list that major thing that you want to do, say ‘design kids clothing line’, naturally it’s going to appear super daunting, and you’ll probably ignore it for months/years/decades because you don’t know where to begin. The first step to getting started is breaking your idea down into the smallest steps possible. Even something as simple sounding as ‘set up the website’ has 20 or so steps involved. So list them out. Chances are once you do that you’ll see that even though there are lots of steps, none of them are impossible, which will make you very very happy, and motivated!
3. Don’t obsess about timing
This one is soooo easy to do and is often the main reason why people don’t get started on something new. It’s easy to put something off because of timing – thinking the time of year isn’t right, the time in your life isn’t right, the season isn’t right… Timing related reasons can be endless when it comes to starting something new, and trust me you can continue to make them forever. But consider, chances are the timing is never going to be right, starting something new is hard, and that’s never going t0 change. But think of all you have to gain! Rather than not starting because of the timing, why not take some small steps towards getting started now, and in likelihood the timing will start to feel much, much better.
4. Do 3 Small Things TODAY
On the subject of small steps, once you’ve got them listed out (step 2), do three of them TODAY. Do not put them off. Not next week, not even tomorrow, do them today. It’s easy to think of yourself as done and dusted once you have the list of steps, but the only way to actually get started is to… get started! Pick three things off the list (tip: you can choose the easiest) and do them today. Buy that domain, watch that youtube video, call that contact. Each one will probably take you no more than 10 minutes, but once you’ve done them you’ll sleep well know that you started today, and in turn this feeling will help motivate you to get through more of the steps. Congrats!
5. Talk About It
I’m someone who avoids talking about something until it’s absolutely ready and finished. I think that’s just a superstition of mine (Ben has it too) but the problem with keeping everything bottled up inside is that you miss out on all the positives involved with verbalising an idea. For many of us it’s because we’re not 100% confident and are afraid of other people’s expectations or criticisms, which is totally natural! But I’ve recently found that by talking about your idea, even to just a close friend, you start to mentally pave the way to actually getting it done. So get chatting!
6. Don’t get Stuck on perfection
In the same vein as not wanting to tell people about something until it’s perfect, overthinking an idea or feeling like it needs to be perfect before you get started can be a big roadblock to actually getting started at all. In my experience, ideas and concepts evolve over time, and unless you get started you won’t be able to go through that process. They don’t need to be perfect at the beginning in order to be great in the end, so let go of the idea of needing the idea to be perfect, take the pressure off yourself and just make a start. You won’t regret it!
7. Keep Going (And Avoid Distractions)
Once you’ve started, you’ll probably want to celebrate, so raise a glass. But once you’ve done that, it’s time to keep going. Something I find can often happen is that you might have the motivation to start something, and take the first few steps, but then falter on the next ones, and let the idea drift. So once you’ve started, continue! Keep listing small steps, putting them on your list for each day, and doing them. This is an area where I need to put more effort, as I am sometimes a person with 10 unfinished ideas or projects in the works, so this is going to be a key area for me this year. Another thing? Make sure you don’t get distracted by a new idea. Stick with the one you’ve started, commit to the time it will take and, as they say, finish what you started!
I’m so excited for 2018 to be a year of evolution, change and adaption, and starting a few new things is a big part of that for me. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, and tonnes of juggling, but hopefully it will be worth it!