Jan 23

How to Get Started: 5 Anti-Procrastination Tips

I get stuck a lot. In fact, I’ve been stuck for about an hour trying to figure out what to write for my fifth entry in the Your Turn Challenge. Lucky for me the challenge organizer prepared some daily prompts to help us get started.

Today’s prompt: What advice would you give for getting unstuck? Seriously.

Mark Whittaker looks for motivation with his cat

Looking for motivation

1. Look for a prompt. Not everything has to come from within. Take somebody else’s idea and give it your own spin. Sometimes you can set your own prompts. For a writer, it could be your own list of evergreen ideas. I’m in no position to offer weight-loss or exercise advice, but even I have a hard stop when it comes to weight. When I get close to that limit, I’m careful about my calories and I head back to the gym. It’s an internal call to action. (Joined the local YMCA and re-started the gym routine this week, as a matter of fact.)

2. Get angry. Anger is a great motivator for me. I quit smoking when I got mad at cigarettes for controlling my life. My nicotine addiction forced me to hide in the garage first thing in the morning, to exit a warm office on a cold day just to grab a few puffs on the loading dock and to head to the store whenever I needed a fresh pack. I hated it, and that anger finally pushed me to quit. I should add here that self-directed anger — I get mad at myself constantly — is probably counter-productive. For folks like me, self-criticism is crippling. You’ve got to direct that angry energy toward a situation you want to change.

3. Productive procrastination. When faced with something I need to start, but can’t, I stare blankly at my computer. Then I work on something else that’s easier to start. Or I walk away from the desk for a few minutes and check the weather. Sometimes I hold a cat. Doing anything but starting sometimes creates enough spark to get me back on track.

4. Talk it out. Telling somebody else (my poor wife) that I’m stuck is often enough to get things moving again.

5. Take a nap. Sometimes it works. And the headline says there would be five tips.

Have you got your own ideas on how to get moving? Share them in the comments.

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