You had the best of intentions.
Heck, you even coloured it with a highlighter, put a star beside it and blocked time on your calendar.
Then you procrastinated.
Or, at least you thought you did…
The reality is you didn’t procrastinate and – better still – with a 2 minute secret action you can overcome pretty well any resistance you have to any action.
Let me show you how.
You are NOT a Procrastinator
“Everybody procrastinates, but not everyone is a procrastinator” – Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D
This might surprise you, but you are not a procrastinator. Nobody is (even though 20% of people think they are.)
Let me explain.
You respond differently to different situations. You don’t procrastinate about buying groceries or thanking a friend for listening to you or flossing your teeth (more on flossing below.) You’ve got those actions nailed.
If you were a “procrastinator” you would be completely unreliable – that’s not you.
You are a responsible person…you just put somethings off until later.
This is an important point. If you think you are a procrastinator then please stop reading right now, because I can’t help you (of course I can help you, it just will take longer 🙂
STEP 1: Before you move to the reason behind your resistance, catch yourself thinking you’re a procrastinator and to stop and to remind yourself you are NOT a procrastinator – you are simply resisting this action.
Now, let’s look at what’s really happening.
Why you DON’T take Action
It’s all about value.
You do something because the value of that action is better than the alternative. You thank your friend for listening because you know that 5 minutes from now you’ll regret it if you didn’t.
You floss you teeth because the alternative is an expensive trip the dentist.
And everything you procrastinate about happens because, in the moment, it gives you more value than the alternative. This applies to refilling the chip bowl instead of stopping at one serving, allowing Netflix to load the next episode of Game of Thrones, instead of turning the TV off or checking email instead of calling the client you’ve been avoiding.
So, it comes down to what you value. Yes, you can build habits, but habits are built on values, so you have to start there.
STEP 2: Stop and think about the value you attach to the alternatives. That sounds more complicated than it is.
In other words, before you take action decide what will give you the biggest reward, long-term.
>> I know that if I go for my 15 minute morning walk I have more energy later in the morning (the walk gives me more reward than not walking.)
>> I know that if I work in blocks of no email, no social media I can plough through my work uninterrupted (focussed work gives me more reward than distractions.)
>> I know that if I take a few minutes before I finish my work day and plan my next day I am far more focussed and productive in the morning (making a list gives me more reward than just ending my work day with no list.)
Now, that you understand what action will give you the biggest long-term reward, let’s take action.
The 2 minute rule will help.
The 2 Minute RULE and how it Works
“Once we start a task, it is rarely as bad as we think. Our research shows us that getting started changes our perception of a task. It can also change our perception of ourselves in important ways.” – Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D
One of the simplest ways to overcome procrastination is also one of the fastest. It’s the 2 minute rule (Stanford Professor B.J. Fogg popularized this idea by demonstrating how to start the habit of daily flossing by starting with just one tooth.)
Here’s how it works.
When you realize you are about to put something off, take a 2 minute action.
For example, you are trying to get traction on a big project, like redesigning you web site, or cold calling prospects, or doing your taxes.
Start with just 2 minutes of action.
But, that’s not all…
Yes, you will start up the mountain with 2 minutes of walking, but you must also finish by planning your next step – what will you do and when will you do it.
It works like this.
Let’s say you want to redesign your web site (we can show you how to save thousands$’s from bad advice) – that’s a humungous job! Of course, you’re going to put it off—you have all sorts of other priorities that can be finished faster.
But, it has to get done. You know this is overdue and, if you get it done, it will help your business long-term (more value than putting it off.)
Step 3: Enter the 2 minute rule: what can you get done in just 2 minutes that will be a step in the right direction up the mountain?
>> You could bookmark competitor’s web sites in your browser for future reference.
>> You could make a list of changes you want to make to the existing site.
>> You could email 3 designers you know and ask about their availability (no point getting quotes if they can’t start for 2 months).
You get the idea.
You can make progress, break the ice and get a tiny dopamine reward by working uninterrupted for just 2 minutes. And then plan your next step.
Block time in your calendar for the next step (read this article about blocking time), to list what you like about your competitor’s sites, or prioritize the changes you want to make, or reply to the designers and ask to see their latest work.
Time investment: 2 minutes.
Reward to you: feeling great about making progress!
What You Must DO the Next Time
“So let’s get started. I’m ready to be heard. Before the dear departed. Can have the final word.” Get Started, Paul McCartney
It’s normal to put things off until later. We all do it. We’ll always do it.
Sometimes it’s a smart strategic move, like waiting until the morning to make a tough phone call, or ignoring your email in order to finish a proposal uninterrupted.
And then there are the non-strategic, wimpy moments when you caved. We all do that as well.
Here’s the thing. Those moments of uncertainty or hesitation don’t define you—those were just human moments.
Let it go and go back to your 3 steps:
Step 1. Don’t define yourself as a procrastinator. You aren’t.
Step 2. Consider the long-term rewards: what is most important for you right now?
Step 3. Take 2 minutes, take some forward action and then plan your next step.
It may not look heroic working on a project for only 2 minutes. But, it could be the most heroic thing you did all day. And you might just impress yourself with the ice-breaking momentum you just started.
Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about procrastination and getting more of what you want: