I’ve been noticing myself getting really stuck lately. I’m rewriting some of my webpages and have noticed a LOT of resistance coming up. Have you had a similar experience? (If not writing your website, maybe you can relate to writing an essay at uni, a report at work, a blogpost, a love letter …)

Have you ever noticed how easily “just a few minutes” checking Facebook can end up being 2 hours … when there’s something else — something important — that you should be doing? 

Or how a quick check on your inbox can turn into email cruising – mindlessly looking through the inbox for anything that looks interesting?

By the time you get back to what you set out to do, an entire morning has evaporated.

Last week I had a particularly hard day. Not super-duper “I’m going to give up and quit this business” type of hard (although I’ve had those too). But “Argggh, this feels too hard! Why don’t I just leave it for now?”

And in the past, that’s exactly what I would do. I’d log into Facebook for *just 5 minutes*, or go to my inbox to see if I have any new mail, or take the potplants outside for some water and fresh air.

The bottom-line? A small distraction can end in a big waste of time.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe distractions are inherently bad. Sometimes leaving something till later is a really useful strategy — putting it on the backburner can help your subconscious make connections. And before you know it, voila, you’ve got clarity!

But I knew this wasn’t one of those times. I’d only been writing for a couple of minutes. This was a classic case of procrastination.

So how do you beat procrastination?

The three keys to nipping procrastination in the bud:

1. Remove or minimise distractions so you don’t get tempted. Everyone has different places for distraction and escapism. For me, Facebook is a biggie, so these are a few things I’ve done:

  • I don’t check Facebook until the afternoon
  • I use a manual sign-in (not ‘remember me’) … having to type in my username and password makes it that little bit less tempting
  • If you want to really remove the distraction, there are programs that allow you to block certain sites. (I haven’t gone down this path yet).

2. Break big, overwhelming tasks into bite-size pieces. Ask yourself “What is the next teeny step?” and focus on just that.

3. Get support and be witnessed. There is incredible power in witnessing. Tell a friend, buddy or professional support what you are doing. We are not wired to do things alone. When you are witnessed in your intention, and can share your journey, it will be that much easier. I promise!

So what did I end up doing?

So this time round, when the temptation of Facebook beckoned, I decided to check into Action Power Hour instead. (If you haven’t experienced Action Power Hour yet, it’s an online chatroom I created where each person types in little updates about the micro-task they’re working on).

Here’s what I typed in:

“Ok, I”m feeling distracted. Really distracted, actually. So, next 5 minutes: I’ll “just say hello” by writing two crappy sentences.”

 

Approximately 5 minutes later:

“Still struggling, but not as bad as before. Next 15: write two more paragraphs. Crappy ones.”

 

About 15 minutes later:

“Done! Feeling proud of myself. Next 15: Edit the next paragraphs I’d written before”

 

My next check-in:

“Oooh, I’m noticing I could easily get perfectionisty, but am resisting! Next 15: write the last 3 paragraphs … this’ll take longer. Just aim for crappy drafts again.”

At the end of another 15 minutes:
“Broke through impasse. *smiling* Next 10: keep typing!”
My next check-in:
“Grrrr … stuck again. *feel like banging head on wall* Next 5: crappy first draft of paragraph”

 

And the next:

“Ok, I was doing well again … until I hit a sentence where I actually have to THINK!! I feel like throwing in the towel –“Too hard”. But I won’t. Thank goodness for Action Power Hour. I’m so glad you guys are there — it helps me hang in there. Next 5: just say hello by aiming for a bridging sentence  “

 

15 minutes later:

“Feeling in the flow again, yay… but my tummy is rumbling, so it’s soon time to eat. Don’t you just hate that?! Ok, next 10: finish this paragraph and post to H. for feedback. That’ll have to do for today”

 

(One thing: just to clarify, it’s not just me in there talking to myself — my Action Power Hour buddies were in the chatroom at the same time, typing in their own updates in between each of mine — for example, one person was working on clearing his inbox and the other was reading some coursework material. We can see what each person writes, but we don’t comment. Just read and witness silently).

You don’t have to do it alone

Looking back at this, I’m amazed to see how within the space of an hour and a half, I experienced the whole spectrum of highs and lows of writing. And I’m convinced, without the support of my Action Power Hour group, I could’ve easily distracted myself (aka “looking for inspiration”) on Facebook. The likely result? The entire morning would’ve been a “write off” (“write off” as in a car accident, not as in “write off” as a competition between writers).

Just knowing that someone else was reading my little humble check-ins — witnessing the hurdles I encounter, reading the mundane tasks that send me crazy, celebrating the flow I experienced — made all the difference.

Want to experience Action Power Hour yourself?

I’ve got a free webinar coming up! It’s called Get 1 Thing Done.

If you’re needing to start (or finish) something but have you’re feeling overwhelmed, stuck or procrastinatey, this will help you. (As they say, we teach what we need to learn best, right? I’m definitely well-qualified to run this webinar!)

As the name suggest, we’ll be focusing on Getting 1 Thing Done. So whether that’s a webpage or an application form or some scary phonecalls, you can work on it during this time.

I’ll be sharing the step-by-step process for getting taking action (the same steps I used to get myself untangled, and some extra tips as well).

And then my favourite part of the webinar is (surprise! surprise!) Action Power Hour. Yes, a whole 60 minutes, for you to experience how powerful it is to have people silently witnessing you take micro-steps of action. You’ll surprise yourself with how much you can accomplish.

In the past, people on this webinar have used Action Power Hour to:

  • write a draft article
  • update a webpage
  • find images for their blog
  • update their finances for last week
  • organise one filing drawer
  • clear out their closet (it doesn’t even have to be business related!)

I’d love for you to join me. The webinar is on soon. You can find out more here.