The next time you’re tempted to procrastinate, “make your focus as simple as ‘What’s the next action – a simple next step – I would take on this task if I were to get started on it now?’”. Doing this, he says, takes your mind off your feelings and onto easily achievable action. “Our research and lived experience show very clearly that once we get started, we’re typically able to keep going. Getting started is everything.”
Well yeah, but even asking the question, “What’s the next action I would take on this task if I were to get started on it now?” requires one to overcome procrastination to ask it. My approach is summed up by the great philosopher Bill Murray in the comedy film, What About Bob?
In a way it ties in with @mbravo’s conversation on intentionality. For example, if I hate to do laundry then maybe my first step is just to bring the basket of dirty clothes down to the laundry room, then go for a walk, watch television, something enjoyable. Then go back to the laundry room and run the machine with the dirty clothes. Would it be quicker to do it all in one step? Yes, but it’s about overcoming the psychological barrier of overwhelmingness. My procrastinations are typically for tasks of greater importance and complexity, but the idea of only doing the first step and actually stopping for awhile before starting step two works for me: the idea that I’m going to trick myself into keep-on-going after I do step one seems like a short-lived hack—next time I’d be reluctant to do step one because I would feel like I’d have to do the whole task once I started. Typically, on something with a lot of steps, such as putting together new electronics I bought, I might procrastinate with each of the first few steps and then, after I’ve built up my self-confidence, I’ll complete the rest of the steps in one setting. I guess my point is that you have to give yourself the option of only doing one step at a time, but if you feel motivated to keep going after completion of step one then do so.
My two cents, FWIW.