If you map out any task from the start line to the finish line there are going to be parts that you love and parts that you hate.
Procrastination occurs whenever you focus on the nightmare you hate.
Productivity happens whenever you focus on the dream you love.
When I was working on my Ph.D. in psychology I had finished all of my classes, completed all of my trainings, run the experiment and collected all of the data for my dissertation and had even written up the biggest part of my dissertation. All I needed to do was to finish the last couple of chapters and I would be ready to graduate, and all of those years of work would be rewarded. For some reason I started procrastinating. Days turned into weeks which turned into months. My boss was going to give me a bonus and a significant increase in pay once I finished so I had more than enough motivation, finish it and get all of this good stuff, don’t finish it and let the time limit run out and all of those years of work would go down the drain. Still I would look at my typewriter (this was before the days of PCs) and I got really good at finding something else, anything else to do.
After months and months of doing nothing I decided to use my training in psychology to help me become a psychologist. At the time I had a 45-minute commute and it went through a part of the state where there were absolutely no interesting radio stations and I only had a radio. So my solution was to buy a tape deck (this was even before CDs) and a bunch of really cool tapes that I was just dying to listen to. Then I put the whole package, tape deck, installation instructions and my tapes on the shelf just above the desk I used to write my dissertation on. I promised myself that I wouldn’t allow myself to put the tape in until I had sent off the final copy of my paper. Every time I sat down to write I would look up at the tape and imagine how how great it would be to be listening to one of the tapes during my next commute.
In two weeks I finished those last chapters and a few weeks later I finished the last of the revisions.
I happily put in my new toy the next weekend and I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed that tape player on my commute to and from work that Monday. I was still looking forward to it that Tuesday morning and it was even easy to get out of the door to our apartment that morning. When I went to get in my car the only thing I found was a puddle of broken glass where the auto thieves had stolen my car. The police found my car 2 days later, abandoned in a rough part of town. The only thing missing was my tape deck and my favorite tennis shirt. Apparently the thieves stole my entire car just to get the prize of my tape deck. Maybe they had a long commute they needed it for also.
So why did this work so well? When I sat down in the beginning I think I was focusing on all of the red ink corrections that dissertation committees love to torture students with, so I just ran away from that nightmare and the closer I got to the terrible nightmare of nonstop red ink corrections the faster I had to run. Focusing on the positive goal of enjoying music allowed me to start chasing a dream. The tape deck triggered positive feelings linked to memories of music enjoyment and maybe a few of figuring out how to install things that I had never installed before. What it didn’t do was to trigger any memories related to writing the last 2 chapters of a dissertation, however, that might not be that important since I obviously already knew how to write technical papers.
So stop your procrastination by ditching your nightmare and creating a dream you can start to chase.