There are things I must do every day. Things I absolutely can’t avoid because my job depends on them. There are others that I should do – also because my job depends on them, but are less time dependent. Beyond those are things I should do to advance myself personally as well as professionally. Things in the second and third category can get passed along for days or weeks or sometimes months at a time.
Always putting out fires
So often it comes to pass that the only way things in the second and third category get done is because they have suddenly moved up to category one. At that point I often I turn into Chicken Little, running around crying, “The sky is falling. The sky is falling.” I’ve avoided things to the point where it’s do or die and it actually feels like the sky is falling.
Putting things off indefinitely always catches up to you
Putting things off indefinitely is not a way to get them done. Avoiding them also, unsurprisingly doesn’t work. Eventually we must, as they say, pay the piper. Rather than facing tasks or obligations or goals from a position of stress and fear, learn to deal with them before the sky starts falling.
Make yourself accountable for your distractions
We all have fall back methods for avoiding what we should be doing. We might check email fifteen times a day instead of the three we actually only need to get through the day. Maybe Facebook is your weakness, or the ten or so online sites you like to check in on regularly.
It doesn’t matter what you turn for distraction, the key is noticing when you do it. When you find yourself drifting from what you know you should be doing, stop and ask. Why am I doing this right now? Recognize your tendencies and call yourself out on them.
What are you avoiding?
When we don’t want to do something on our list we automatically find anything else to focus on. When you find yourself tying up your running shoes, yet again, rather than face the task at hand, ask yourself why. Are you afraid of the difficulty of the task? Success? Failure? The time involvement? Once you define your reasons for staying away it becomes easier to break them down and get past them.
Take the first step
Once you’ve broken down the reasons behind your avoidance take one step forward. You don’t need to complete the entire task in one sitting, but you can certainly do something. Set yourself a time limit. Say I will work on this for fifteen minutes (or half an hour, or two hours). Make a dent. Show yourself that you can get past the walls you’ve set around yourself.
Eventually instead of looking at your Twitter feed you’ll look up instead. And see the blue skies, staying right where they are above your head while you are getting your work done!