By Leo Babauta
If you’re having trouble with the Daily Unprocrastination Challenge so far, don’t worry â€” it’s completely normal.
We’re going to figure out how to overcome the resistance.
Let’s look at the most common reasons we fail to overcome procrastination:
- We are feeling fear or uncertainty about a task or project.
- The task or project is so big or difficult that it feels overwhelming.
- We might be tired or not in the mood.
- We might be trying to get everything in the perfect order (really just an excuse).
- We might not be feeling very motivated, just down in a slump.
- We might just be indulging in our desires for comfort, running to distractions.
Any of these sound familiar? Most of us have fallen to most of these at one point or another â€” maybe even daily.
The secret to overcoming these is to realize that procrastination comes from resistance, and resistance is just a mood. The mood comes from uncertainty, fear, overwhelm and discomfort of some kind, but in the end, it is a mood.
So changing our mood, or managing it, is the key here.
With that in mind, let’s look at ways to overcome resistance by managing the mood of resistance:
- Set a deadline or a timer. This puts a little pressure on us to get something done, rather than feeling like we could do it at any time, and there’s no urgency. This kind of urgency is a useful way to change the mood â€” for example, I wrote this article before I left for a trip to Asia and Africa. Because I felt like I had to get it done before I left, my heartbeat quickened a bit and I didn’t give in to mood fluctuations.
- Make the task really small. If you’re feeling tired or don’t have a lot of energy, focusing on doing a small task is a great way to overcome this. If you’re tired, you might not be in the mood to run a marathon. But you could walk around the house one time. That’s how we can use our limited energetic resources to keep moving.
- Set a strong intention. If you set an intention to help, say, children in need by getting started on a project that will benefit them … you’re more likely to get off your but and actually do the task than if you were just doing it for your own good. Setting an intention to benefit other people, reminding yourself of why you care about this task or project … that helps you to overcome your self-concern and the resistance that is based on this self-concern.
- Create public accountability. Having a commitment to others to do this project or to do Unprocrastination Sessions every day … it helps hold you to your intention once you start to waver from resistance. Create strong accountability so you don’t back down!
- Lift your mood. Play some upbeat music. Brew a cup of tea. Get moving so that your heartbeat goes up. Take a bath. Get a hug from someone. Anything to lift your mood. Music and tea are my favorites!
- Just start with the smallest possible first step. If you feel you can’t do the task, just take the first step. For example, I would tell myself I don’t need to go on a run, just lace up my shoes and get out the door. Once I did that, I pretty much always felt in a better mood to run. Don’t focus on the whole task, just the part that gets you moving.
- Put a moat around distractions. If you’re feeling in a mood to go to comforts and distractions, create barriers so you can’t actually go to them. Shut off your wifi, ask someone to change the wifi password and not give it to you for three hours, go somewhere without wifi, use an website blocker. When you feel like running but have no exit, you will reconsider doing the smallest first step.
As you can see, there are some good options for changing your mood or overcoming a down mood that is full of resistance. Give yourself some encouragement to try these â€” you got this!