How are you all doing? I hope you're all having a wonderful week so far :). I feel like since fall is the time right before January, which is this super motivating time with New Year's resolutions, fall tends to be a more messy time for me, and a time when it seems that I procrastinate much more. These days, I've been procrastinating doing my laundry, exercising, and working on a 20-page paper (so excited to be in the last semester of my grad program!).
Through this time, I have been using a solution that I discovered a few years ago, and which has helped me to overcome procrastination EVERY TIME.
I am so excited to share it, and if you want to give it a try, I would love to know how it goes! Let me know by leaving a note in the comments box!
Are you ready?
Here it is.
I can't remember where I learned this, but it's a business negotiation technique. Basically, doing the foot-in-the-door means asking for something so small that it's not possible to reject it, and this will allow you to get "your foot in the door." This leaves room for you to ask for a little more (which opens the door a little wider), then you ask for a little more, until finally, you get the whole thing, which is what you wanted in the beginning but might not have been able to get if you asked for the whole thing all at once.
I discovered that you can use the foot-in-the-door technique on yourself in order to get anything done– really anything– and snap out of the trance of procrastination!
How does it work, you ask?
Well, all you have to do when faced with a task you just don't feel like doing (be it big or small) is to commit to doing ONLY a small part of it.
Why do I emphasize ONLY?
Because this technique works only if you can be super honest with yourself that you will not force yourself to do more. You can't go into this being all like, I know, I'll tell myself to clean my house for only 5 minutes, put on a timer, and force myself to do 5 more minutes each time. Ha! I'm so sneaky!
No. It doesn't work that way.
You need to commit to ONLY what you can't not do, and nothing more. Once your task is done, you can go back to procrastinating. Really! And if you REALLY feel like doing more to the point that you want to make an exception to continue, then that's another story.
The theory behind this is that if you start with something small, you will feel accomplished and might feel like you want to do a little more, and then a little more, and then realize, hey, this is not so bad, and then do the whole thing. Moving out of procrastination and into productivity is very slow, but the momentum builds as you get deeper into productivity. This is something that a lot of people forget. It's always easier after you start. We all seem to have this illusion that the whole thing will be hard the whole time.
Let me give an example.
Since I'm in the middle of writing a 20-page paper, I'll share about my paper. My task was to start on this large paper, and my goal was to find one tiny goal that I was 100% willing to do.
Do I want to do an outline?
No, that's too much work. Procrastination time.
Okay, what about writing the first page?
No way, ain't nobody got energy for that.
What about writing the first paragraph?
No, I told you, I don't feel like writing. Let's scroll around on Pinterest.
Okay, what about just pulling out the prompt and reading the directions for the paper?
Hey, uh, that doesn't sound too bad.. I mean, if that's my only goal for today, then I could do that.. I mean, it's just reading, right?
This is where we pause.
Congratulations. At this point, you have found your micro goal.
You have found your tiny goal that's so doable, so easy, that you can't not do it.
Okay, now that you have a goal so tiny that you can't not do it, this is the time to REMIND yourself that you are not here to trick yourself.
I know, I know. Even though you know the foot-in-the-door technique, this is the moment that you PROMISE yourself that your ONLY goal for today is to simply read your prompt and just let your eyes get familiar with the work ahead, and once you do it, you're DONE for the day. That's right! You're done! Yipeeeeee! You can go back to scrolling on Pinterest! I'm not kidding!
That's right, you can go back to your happy place and feel better that you at least opened your binder and touched your assignment.
From what I've experienced (and chances are) that when you unzip your backpack, pull out that binder, and place that sheet of paper in front of you and start reading, you might start to think, hey, this is not so bad.
You might start to think, hey, this is actually easier than I thought, maybe I can just write some notes here in the corner about what I might write my paper about. Maybe I'll turn these notes into a mini outline real quick...
You see where this is going?
The truth is that the things in our life that we dread doing, we see those things like a giant monster, when in reality, it's only that thing's shadow that looks like a giant monster. Maybe up close, the thing is more like a medium sized dog, like a beagle. Who doesn't like beagles...
But Stephanie, how am I supposed to do this foot-in-the-door thing if I consciously know that I'm doing it? Wouldn't I need to "trick" myself or be sneakier about it?
I know, this is the way it might seem. But the reality is that it's actually okay that you know that this technique exists and what it might lead to.
The important part here is to be 100% honest and firm with yourself that you will ONLY complete the tiny goal for the day. I mean, you won't allow yourself to complete more, only in the case that, of course, you can't help yourself and you're really longing to do more.
I personally like this productivity booster because it EVERY TIME, WITHOUT FAIL, makes one of two things happen:
1) You either complete your tiny goal and realize that you have way more motivation than you thought, and you start playing with the thought of doing a little more, getting closer to your ultimate goal.
2) You complete your tiny goal, realize that it's not so bad, and can go back to your happy procrastination place, and this time, be guilt-free since you've completed your goal. Plus, you've just made it easier for yourself to pick up where you left off tomorrow when you do another micro goal. You'll be significantly less stressed just knowing you've touched your goal even just a little bit.
I recently have been procrastinating with going to the pool, where I do my weekly exercise. I just have been feeling like, do I really have the energy to swim laps? I have just been feeling lazy and haven't been able to bring myself to go.
So I decided to do the foot-in-the-door technique on myself.
And to be honest, it came down to finding out that the one thing that I can't not do is drive to the YMCA and sit in the heated therapy pool, which is kind of like a spa but not as hot. So that's what I did. I sat in that heated pool for around 20 minutes until I decided that I wanted to swim for a few minutes-- and then jumped back in my therapy pool :).
There were a few days here and there when all I did end up doing was sitting in the therapy pool, and that's okay. Because that was my only goal for the day, and I completed it, and it felt good that I was doing something to care for my physical health, and the guilt of not doing anything did not build up but rather, a desire to do more starting growing.
Maybe you procrastinate about doing something at work because it seems too overwhelming, or maybe it's about running an errand that seems like it might take awhile, or delivering on a promise you told someone you would do but just "never had the time." Or maybe it's doing something good for yourself like planning a vacation or spending time with people you love. It's funny how we procrastinate on the things we love, too.
These are all good things to use the technique on. But the real reason I wrote this post is for a bigger picture reason.
In life, there are things that we want to do. Our heart has dreams of its own, and we all of a sudden get these quick moments of inspiration– but then the thoughts start happening, the excuses. I suddenly feel like organizing a cool get-together with friends, but then my mind says things like, Oh, but that's too much work, when do you have time do to this, or who will even come anyway?
I think these thoughts are not the good kind of thoughts, but the ones that keep us from living our life to the fullest, from being truly alive every day!
We can use this technique as a tool to fight the thoughts that are keeping us from fulfilling our purpose. I think it's worth trying.
The key is all about finding a task small enough you can't not do it, and off you go!
Hope you enjoy your weekend :).
Lots of love,