Productivity + Procrastination + Productivity

Last week I reminded a friend of one of my father’s best pieces of advice – and this one is not about skin care. “When you have work stress, the only way to get over it is to work” he told me many years ago. I have to admit I remind myself of this advice quite regularly and have found that this method of combating work stress has indeed never failed me. “Easier said than done,” she replied. True, but also not true. Specifically, here are the three tactics I use to get myself working when feeling somewhat paralyzed by work stress, or the length of my to-do list.

Step 1: Remind myself of Dad’s advice. Say it out loud to myself if need be. “When you have work stress, the only way to get over it is to work.”

Step 2: Do one thing on my to-do list. Tell myself I am going to do just one thing. One small step. Because just as an object in motion stays in motion, the hardest part is starting… I usually choose to start with the most menial of tasks, something easy and mindless, yet something that needs to be done. And then I have begun.

Step 3: Having accomplished one small task, I then tackle that one project on my list that is giving me the “work stress.” I give myself a pep talk, use my power name in said pep talk, and remind myself that since I am already feeling stressed out and bad about procrastinating, I might as well do the thing I am procrastinating on because I can’t really feel worse about it. Indeed, working on it is the only way I know to feel better. I give myself a strict time frame of 60-90 minutes to work on it – so from the start I know when this will end. And 90 minutes, I then remind myself, in the grand scheme of things, is really not that long a time to struggle with a task.

Three steps, and my work stress has gone back to “normal work stress” versus “peak work stress.” I have checked off some to-dos on my list. I quit procrastinating. I realized the project weighing on me really wasn’t as bad in reality as it was in my head. And I am comforted in the knowledge that once again, Dad’s advice worked, and everything is right in the world.

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