This article describes how I procrastinated on some projects over the past few weeks. I share this with you because the trap I fell into is one we can all fall into.
The root cause of the problem: assigning projects to myself without really being ready to commit to them, assigning them just because I thought I should do them. This is a pretty common cause of procrastination.
For the past few weeks, I have had a few projects that I have made zero progress on. None. Zada. Zip.
Of course you can guess the reason for this: the projects had no next action.
You say, “How can this be, Keener? How did those projects ever make it past your Weekly Review?” Good questions. I put the projects onto my Projects List during a weekly review about 3 or 4 weeks ago, when I was reviewing my Someday List.
I saw these items on my Someday List and said to myself “I really should do these … they’ve been Someday Items for a long while.” So, I put them on my Project List and then told myself I would assign Next Actions for them “when my head was more clear.”
Well, my head has been clear plenty of times since then, and I still have not come up with the next actions for the projects. The reason is that my head is not really committed to getting those projects done, even if “my heart” thinks they should be done.
So, these items either need to go back on my Someday list, or I need to come up with next actions. I am thinking right now that I need to answer “what aspect of Project X am I willing to commit to?” Then, that aspect can become the project.
In other words, for each of these items, I need to break what was a sort of “meta item” into smaller pieces that I am willing to commit to as projects. By doing that, then I can think of a successful outcome for the project and a next action, and then I will move on it.
Whenever you find yourself saying “I really should do this,” ask yourself if it is expressed at a level that you are ready to commit to. Your brain has to agree with your heart before you’re going to get it done. If you really feel like you should do it, but are not ready to commit to it, then create a project that says “what aspect of Someday Item X am I willing to commit to and do?”
Before you add a project to your list, you need to ensure you are committed to it, that you can define a successful outcome for it (and visualize it happening), and that it has at least one next action that you can really do and are willing to do.