One of the easiest way to beat procrastination is to get clever on how you create your to-do lists.
You know, the tasks you’ve decided you want to or should do.
For most people, a task list will look something like this.
– Build new website
– Lose weight
– Learn how to play the piano
– Find more buyers
– Empty email inbox
– Sell photos online
And on and on it goes.
You look at that list, panic sets in, a feeling of defeat comes up, and off you go scrolling through Facebook/Pinterest, or giving your kitchen cupboards that deep cleaning they need so badly.
So look at that list there.
Can you tell me what’s wrong with it?
I’ll tell you: those aren’t tasks.
They are goals.
The difference is huge, and the mistake is so easy to make.
You have a goal in mind, and without further though you put that one on your to-do list.
But that’s not where it belongs!
See, each goal, big or small, consists of several smaller subgoals, and each of those are reached by performing small tasks.
Building a website consists of registering a domain name, researching a host, choosing a host, signing up, installing WordPress or another engine, choosing a theme, installing a
theme… and so on.
So obviously, if you make the mistake of filling your to-do list with goals, your subconscious will see that list and decide ‘screw this, you and I are going on vacation’.
So if you struggle with procrastination and your to-do lists, do this (ha!):
Take all the goals you have, and put each of them on a separate piece of paper (or Word doc).
Write the goal at the top, and put a horizontal line under it.
Under the line, start listing all the subgoals.
Take each subgoal, and put it on a separate piece of paper.
Line under it, and then… the magic happens.
Then you write down all the tasks that have to be completed to reach the subgoals.
When you’re done with one goal, put the papers in a folder, and repeat the process for your next goal.
This is powerful, life-changing stuff, and my thighs agree.
Wait, thighs? What now?
Well, for years I’ve wanted to start practicing some sort of martial arts.
But ‘start martial artists’ is not a task or to-do, it’s a goal.
But last Sunday I had coffee with a friend who’s also a coach, and when I described what I want out of martial arts, he said that Aikido would be a good thing to try.
I liked the idea, so, without even thinking about it, I grabbed my phone and emailed myself a reminder: “Find martial arts teacher”.
Monday morning I found the email, I googled for local teachers, and found one.
It looked good, nice and austere, Zen-like, proper stuff.
Called him up, agreed to go to the training the same day, and that’s what I did.
And that’s why right now, my thighs hurt like you wouldn’t believe.
Awesome stuff though – I believe that Aikido just really might be my thing.
In fact, if it wouldn’t be for the first Cabal session tonight, I’d go again today.
So now I’ve started practising martial arts, just because I turned a goal into a smaller task.
And you can do the same thing for yourself.
Take it small, start with just one small goal, and break that puppy down into subgoals and subsequent tasks.
There’s a big chance that you’ll start taking action on them right when you’re done.
And hey, while it might seem at first that you’re not making a lot of progress, don’t forget that water cuts stone.
If you release a drop on granite every second, in the end there will be a hole in the stone.
It’ll take centuries, but compound influence adds up to result.
And you’re bigger than just a drop, when it comes to taking action.
Or to put it differently: progress not perfection.
Keep your eye on one task after another, and don’t worry about how fast you’ll reach the goal.
Keep your eye on the task at hand and then the next one, and you’ll reach the goal sooner than you expect.
Also published on Medium.