How to Get Unstuck from Procrastination

You know the scenario. You’ve got a big piece of work that you have to do, but you’ll do anything to avoid getting stuck into it. You’ll polish every shoe that you own, muck the rabbit out, or lose several hours on facebook rather than actually doing the thing that you need to do.

But just the act of delaying starting that piece of work is energy-draining. Every gut-churning moment that you think about the fact that you STILL haven’t done that thing makes you feel crappy. And worse still, the activities that you use to keep you busy so that you ‘can’t possibly do that thing now’, don’t really add value. They just steal your time and energy.

But what if you had a model you could use to help you get unstuck from this kind of procrastination? Well here it is:

The Energy Management Matrix

A grid showing four faces_the Procrastination Matrix_how to stop procrastinating

This is a tool that you can use to both observe and change the way that you manage your mental energy throughout the day.

It’s a way of plotting the tasks that you have to do within your working day (or within your homelife for that matter!) There are some tasks that are low importance – they’re a low priority or could even be something that you don’t necessarily need to do. Then there are tasks that are high importance; they definitely need to be done at some point.

But here’s the thing: we usually we have a preference for the sort of tasks that we really like doing and those that we don’t.  And how we feel about these tasks will define whether you do them straight away, or whether they hang around like the proverbial bad smell.

So in order to maintain your energy throughout the day, the number one thing you can do is this:

To do list_how to stop procrastinating and get unstuck

Do the big, bad stuff first.

And by ‘big’ and ‘bad’, I mean the top left-hand corner stuff. That task that is high-importance, but that you dislike doing. Get stuck into it as your first task of the day. Engage with it before your brain has a chance to resist it.

But here’s the good news. You don’t have to do the whole thing.

only spend a maximum of 90 minutes on this task

 Why is this? Well your body runs on ultradian rhythms, which means that 90 minutes is the optimum amount of time that you can focus your attention on a task, after which you start to become less and less effective. So after 90 minutes you stop and take a break for at least ten minutes. Go outside, grab a drink, go and have a chat with a colleague, anything that gets you away from your desk.

And by now you’ll feel so awesome that you’ve actually spent some time getting this task done, you’ll get a rush of energy that will help to carry you through the day!

a lego superman flying through the air_stop procrastinating.jpg

But what about the other tasks that you have on your list?

Jobs that are low-importance but that you enjoy doing can be used as recovery tasks. You know the ones - the things that you can get done super quickly and get them ticked off your list so you get an easy hit of achievement, if you’re anything like me, you might even add them to your list even though you’ve already done them, just so you can cross them off! . So do these when your energy is low, or when you’ve just completed one of those ‘first thing in the morning 90 minute tasks. They are like a little reward.

And those tasks that you hate doing and that are low importance… don’t do them! Question whether they really have to be done. Outsource them. Delegate them to someone who loves doing that type of thing. Or just see what happens if you don’t do it.

Try it today and see how much energy you get back in your life!

a woman in wings and tutu jumps for joy in a sunny sky