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HappyDude 2013-09-04 01:06 AM

Why Do We Procrastinate on The Big Projects?
Having been a long time OF & GTD user ((7 years now)) I see that i've not only become very well at getting things done, but i've always throughout this time have learned how to procrastinate abhorrently at the behest of my most important projects. I, like you as sure, have had projects that have gone untouched for week, months and yes, even a year at a time.

I'm sure fear of failure plays into this, but also more subtly perhaps fear of success. I'm not too sure and rather than immediately delving my own personal opinions on the matter I would love to hear your personal input regarding this matter.

For those interested, i've gone ahead and posted the same thread over at the David Allen GTD forum to hear relating responses; all in good, proactive and productive nature. Thanks!

Lizard 2013-09-05 10:34 AM

I can't remember if it was Merlin Mann or someone else that I heard this from, but I've found it true for me...

Often I procrastinate on the big projects because I haven't stopped to plan out what the Next Action is. As long as I see something big and vague like "Adopt a Dog" or "Create my personal Website", that feels big and future. But if I see "Check on apartment regulations about dog breeds" or "Ask Tim what service he uses for his blog", these are things I could do in just a few minutes.

Not that the WHOLE project needs to be completely listed out in advance, but if I make sure there's always a couple bite-sized actions waiting there that will move me towards my goal, it's a lot less likely to not get done.

GeoffAirey 2013-09-06 02:58 AM

[QUOTE=Lizard;127114]Often I procrastinate on the big projects because I haven't stopped to plan out what the Next Action is. [/QUOTE]

This is my take also.

How do you eat an Elephant?

In small bites.

Kourosh 2013-09-12 07:19 AM

I prefer to think of procrastination as anxiety manifest in movement or the lack thereof - movement when we find other things to do and a type of paralysis otherwise.

Calling one's self "lazy" for instance, is both an excellent and insidious means of getting out of the work as the actual anxiety is entirely avoided. It is also completely map-adaptive as the thing of which you are worried can smack you upside the head when you're not looking.

Instead, the first thing I tend to do is consider "what is the anxiety?" That, at least, let's me face it down directly, rather than have it unconsciously show up in procrastinating acts. Works of particularly large size tend to connect to feelings of self-worth, worsened by the sense that it may not be completed, as it is so large. Creative works in particular can carry the oddly simultaneous senses of "This is great!" and "This is terrible!" further confounding matters.

My own version of handling this, beyond iteratively addressing the question of "What is the anxiety?" is to:
[LIST][*]Start Small (break it down into next actions as Lizard and GeoffAirey mention)[*]Start Early (meaning put the work in front of me immediately if possible)[*]Start Often (meaning set the task to repeat).[/LIST]
That way I don't have to finish the work at any one session and I buffer against any due dates, too. Hope this helps.

- Kourosh

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