The Nothing Alternative
Procrastinators have good intentions, but get sidetracked by something else. They may sit to write and drift away checking emails. They may set aside time to do the report, which is used by reading one more article. If this happens to you, try the Nothing Alternative.
The Nothing Alternative states that you don’t have to do the task planned, but you cannot do anything else with that time. For example, you schedule time to write for an hour. When the time comes, you can sit there and stare at the wall instead of writing, but you can’t do anything else. Writing will become the attractive alternative to nothing, which is exactly the point.
Play Offense means that you’ve worked out your strategy to defeat temptation before you meet it.
First, be aware of the things that most frequently get in your way. It could be chatty co-workers, disorganized files, a “jones” for Facebook. Then, plan in advance what you’ll do in these situations. For example, when a chatty coworker insists you stop to enjoy the latest You Tube video, your offense is prepared: “yes, but not now.” It could be something like: “Sounds funny! I’ll check it out tonight. “ Or if disorganization is your problem, your offense can be “When I download a file, it gets to a folder immediately.”
Playing offense doesn’t mean you’ll avoid distractions, just that you’ll be on the right side of them.
Give yourself the same motivation as every elite athlete in the world: Keep Score. Write down every day what progress you’ve made towards your goal. I know, this sounds like drudgery. But reframe it to accountability: accountability to yourself. Once you get the string of days of progress staring back at you, you will be loath to break them. Your first grade teacher was right about the little gold stars. They work!
Try these procrastination busters when distraction gets between you and great moments. You can do it!
Baumeister, R.F. and Tierney, J. (2011) Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. New York: Penguin Books.