No matter how much I know I need to do some things, it’s a pain. I have to wash the dishes, but nothing much is going to happen if I don’t do it right now. So maybe I’ll procrastinate for awhile, then a little longer. Pretty soon, it’s next week with a big pile of dishes in the sink.
There’s a number of great ways to get around these mental barriers:
Give yourself a good reason: In this case, if I invite people over for dinner, I know for sure that the dishes will get done. I don’t want to embarrass myself by looking bad in front of my guests. The added benefit, of course, is that the rest of the house will get clean as well, and we’ll hopefully enjoy the company.
Bribe yourself: I can reward myself for having done the work. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to go on a dream vacation as reward for doing the dishes, but maybe I’ll commit that I won’t start watching TV tonight until they get done. It needs to be something that’s positive for me, and for which I can make the commitment.
Declare your intention: It’s amazing how powerful a simple statement can be. I’ll tell my wife that the dishes will get done before dinner. Knowing that she’ll check up on me, and not wanting to disappoint her, I know I’ll follow through.
Link it to something more important: I might decide that our spring cleaning needs to get done this week, and a great way to start is by cleaning the kitchen. I can’t clean the kitchen without doing the dishes, so that becomes a natural part of the bigger task. I want to make sure, though, that I really am going to be motivated by the larger project, and that its magnitude doesn’t scare me off from even getting started.
Break it up into small pieces and take a step at a time: If the size of the task is what’s holding me back, let me start by doing a piece that’s much easier to tackle. I like starting with the plastic containers, because they can be done in a flash, right now. And once I get started, I usually find that I want to continue with the rest of the work because I’ve built up some momentum.
Make it a habit: Some tasks are better done as a part of a larger routine. I don’t think about brushing my teeth, it’s just one of the elements of my “morning routine.” I have a weekly routine which includes putting out the trash for Monday morning, but actually starts with cleaning the litter box on Saturday. A whole bunch of useful things get done all together.
Let’s face it: All of these are just mental tricks. But they can work in most situations, especially when you’re having difficulty convincing yourself with logic. These also work on the job and in social settings, not just with household chores.
What are you avoiding? What’s that next step?
by Carl Dierschow