Here's what the process of overcoming perfectionism and procrastination looks like:
1. You start from a place where you hate doing your work and avoid doing it at all costs.
2. Then you move to a place where you dislike it, but start showing up and doing it sometimes.
3. Then you move to a place where you are mildly averse to it, but show up and do it more often.
4. Then you move to a place where your feelings are neutral or just slightly negative, and you can do it most of the time when you plan to.
For some tasks, e.g., boring committees and tedious household chores, the process ends at #4. For those tasks, however, you should ask yourself whether you should be investing your precious time in them at all. Better to say no or delegate! But when that's not possible, be sure to give yourself rewards for overcoming your resistance to doing a boring task.
For your "mission" tasks, which tend to be the interesting and creative ones, there are a few more steps:
5. You move to a place where the task is pleasant, and you're doing it more and more on schedule.
6. Then you move to a place where it's actively fun and engaging, and you start doing it most of the time you had planned to do it.
7. Then you move to a place where it's so much fun that you start not only doing it nearly all the time you planned, but extra times. In fact, you start doing it in place of other things that need getting done!
#7 is still a problem but a much better problem, I think you'd agree, than procrastinating on your important work!
The quickest way to move from step to step is to do the core anti-procrastination exercises of journalling and timed intervals. You'll find more about them at the link, and of course in my book The 7 Secrets of the Prolific.
As you move through Steps 1 through 7, you'll probably experience what a student recently called "the shift," where you can actually feel your anxiety, perfectionism, and other constraints start to melt away, and your intellect and emotions opening themselves up to your work. The shift feels sublime, and if you do the work it will probably occur much more quickly than you might imagine.
Summer, by the way, is a great time to practice all of the above because there are so many ways you can reward yourself! This season I hope you have many fun picnics, afternoons at the beach, etc. And then just think how geared up you will be for the fall!
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