What Will Keep You Awake Tonight?
As a self-proclaimed (and accepted) procrastinator, I have to work hard to fight against putting things off until the last minute.
I’ve read countless self-development books to help learn skills and strategies to combat procrastination. They’ve helped, and I’ve been able to put together bits and pieces of the lessons I’ve learned to slowly grow and find out something that works for me.
Like many things in life, it’s an ongoing battle, and it’s easy to revert back to my natural habits. But I’d like to think I’m slowly evolving for the better.
Eat that frog
Along the way, one of the books I’ve enjoyed is Eat That Frog! There are plenty of great tidbits in this book, but one of the main takeaways is to eat the biggest frog (the task you don’t want to do) first thing and get it out of the way.
While I agree that completing the task you’ve been putting off or are dreading first thing in your day works, it’s not always plausible. Because, well, life. Things come up or happen that don’t allow us to complete the “biggest frog” task first thing.
So I’m going to offer a similar, but slightly altered, option for my fellow procrastinators.
What will keep you awake tonight?
I’ve found that I’ve become a night owl over time, staying up late to write and work.
At first, I thought that this – somewhat unusual – lifestyle was a poetic nod to my creative and entrepreneurial lifestyle. I’ve even said I “write better at night.”
Upon further reflection, however, I’ve come to realize that I will tend to stay up late at night to finish the tasks I wanted to get done for the day. I stay up late to deal with my “biggest frog” when my pressure-prompted spirit is pushed to the brink.
As a result, I don’t want to (or simply cannot) sleep until the task is complete. Not only is it unhealthy to push your body in that way, working half-exhausted isn’t an ideal work condition for the best quality. (The reality is: I don’t really write better late at night, just a little more uninhibited in my sleepy daze.)
So I’d like to slightly shift the “biggest frog” mindset to this: what task will keep you up tonight if you don’t finish it?
Modify your mindset
Perhaps this is just a better way to identify your “biggest frog” in order to eat it, or maybe it simply shifts your perspective. (After all, most people I know really love their sleep and the idea that something would keep them from it is simply not acceptable.)
Whatever the difference, I know this mindset modification is helping me better focus on a task at hand so that when it’s time to hit the hay, I can fall asleep feeling fulfilled and accomplished for the day.
Try to keep this to one task, if possible, so as to not overwhelm yourself. Sure, you’ll accomplish plenty of other things throughout the day – and those are all icing on the cake. They’re also to-do items that you’re not necessarily lost sleep over should you not finish them.
So the next time you feel yourself struggling with a sense of procrastination, pay it forward to yourself tonight and complete the task that (if left undone) won’t let you sleep tonight.
What do you think of this mindset shift? Will it help you with accomplishing your tasks?