The two exciting ways procrastination can make your life better are: 1) it can't and 2) it won't.
As a serial impending-task-avoider, I've learned that procrastinating doesn't make my life better. Instead, it instills anxiety and last minute panic.
I started out this morning by developing a blog post about making and keeping New Year's resolutions. Halfway through my writing, I started having flashbacks of the many, many resolutions I'd made over the years. I'd accomplished few of them due the fact that I'd made them so grand, so big, so cumbersome and mammoth-sized. Although I knew there was a mammoth in the room, I did my best to ignore it and hoped it would wander off on its own.
I'm not going to offer you two exciting (fake) ways procrastination can better your life. Instead, I'm going to give you five honest and simple ideas to move past avoidance and jump-start living. I know this is a short list, but it is do-able. Like Aesop once wrote, “Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves.”
How did I finally deal with my mammoth-sized problems? One bite at a time.
5 Ways to Tackle the Procrastination Pachyderm (Grab a spoon!):
1) Back Up Your Information! Although backing up your photographs, precious work and documents, can be tedious, it is so VERY important. The task might seem daunting at first but losing your information can be devastating. I had an enormous amount of items that needed to be backed up. Instead of panicking I methodically went through my files and put aside a few minutes every evening to back up my computer's contents. After I was satisfied with the results I made a date with myself to back up my information regularly.
Your Mission: Spend 15 minutes every night this week organizing and backing up your computer files. At the end of this week write a note in your day timer or on your calendar to “Back Up!” every Monday evening (or whichever day suits you best). It's a very simple habit to start that will save you a great amount of heartache in the future.
Extra Incentive: The wonderful artist, Henrike Dijkstra, knows all about the headache of losing precious information. She's created some excellent pointers to help make backing up easy and less stressful. You can read her post here (and download an excellent, free worksheet): http://pencilsandstories.com/backup.
2) Get More Exercise: “Get more exercise,” seems to one of the phrases at the top of most people's resolution list. We really want to get fit, we really do, and so many of us rush out and buy gym memberships that end up gathering dust as the year unfolds. Getting fit is so important for our personal well-being, but it can be difficult to get started.
Your Mission: If getting fit is on your “to-do” list but you haven't started yet, here's a simple way to get yourself in gear this week. For the next seven days, when you get up in the morning, put on your running shoes, walk to the end of your driveway and walk back. That's it. This idea is so easy you might feel embarrassed doing it, but it starts a good habit that can be built upon. ( I know how easy it is to NOT get up and go, especially when the weather outside is frightful.)
Extra Incentive: After walking up and down your driveway for a week, stretch your jaunt out to a couple of laps a morning, then to the end of the block and back and then....(you see where this is going). Before you know it, you will actually start looking forward to your morning journey and will start feeling invigorated and motivated.
If you are a Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) fan, you might truly enjoy the “Walk to Rivendell” on the Eowyn Challenge website: http://home.insightbb.com/~eowynchallenge/Walk/walk.html
3) Eat Healthy Food: “Have a healthier diet.” is another resolution we make and try to keep, but often fail because of procrastination. We get overwhelmed by fad diets, Instagram staged- foodie-photoshoots, elaborate recipe preparations, lack of fancy ingredients, and time constraints. Even though we really do want to have a healthier lifestyle, we find ourselves at the drive-through, or the takeaway more often than we would like. Instead of procrastinating, simplify. Simplify your shopping list, your food preparation, and your recipes.
Your Mission: Learn one simple recipe a week that involves 5 ingredients or less. Here's a deliciously simple recipe to get you started: Baked potato, Celeriac, and Garlic Mash by Jamie Oliver.
Extra Incentive: Give recipes from the Paleo Diet a whirl. I know I cautioned against fads, but there are many delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes, available in the Paleo diet. The ingredients are straightforward with a focus on simplicity and freshness. I signed up for the free beginner's guide to the Paleo diet through the Nerd Fitness website. If you are interested, you can find it here: Free Paleo e-Book.
4) Learn a New Skill: Like me I am sure you have a curious mind and want to learn new things, but resist doing so due to finances, time, or travel concerns. Sciences teaches us that learning new skills contributes to our cognitive vitality, which is of tantamount importance to us as we age.
Your Mission: Find a free course online that interests you and start today. There are so many options available for those who are curious-minded and excited to learn. These sites are a few of my favorites:
Coursera: from Arts and Science to Physical Science and Engineering, this site offers hundreds of specializations and courses. https://www.coursera.org/browse
MIT: “MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and it is a permanent MIT activity.” http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Codecademy: Learn to code, interactively, for free! https://www.codecademy.com/
Extra Incentive: Do you want to learn a new language? Five minutes a day on Duolingo will be a great assistance on your road to fluency. I've just started learning French and Spanish and find Duolingo's badges keep me motivated. (never underestimate the power of a gold star to keep procrastination at bay) https://www.duolingo.com/
Travel: Many of us have dreams of traveling but procrastinate due to finances, timings and concerns. We put travel off and promise ourselves we will expand our horizons at some vague time in the future. Travel can expand not only your horizons but your mind. “But where do I start?” you ask.
Your Mission: To leap over the travel procrastination hurdle, start small, and start locally.Your task this week is to discover one place in your city or town that you haven't visited before and go visit it. Be a tourist, take pictures, buy yourself a postcard, keep your ticket stub. It's a small step but a satisfying one.
Extra Incentive: Do you like treasure hunting? One way to get into traveling that is both cost efficient and fun, is the outdoor game known as geocaching. According to geocaching.com “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” I've just started geocaching and find it a great deal of fun and an excuse to get outside and explore. To learn more please visit: https://www.geocaching.com/guide/
These are just five ways I move past procrastination to start simply living. How do you move past avoidance? Do you have any habits or life hacks you use to ditch procrastination and jump start your day?
Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.