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How to stop procrastinating and have fun with the things you have to do

If you’re like me or anybody I know, you keep procrastinating on some things because you don’t want to be doing them. For example, unless you’re a happy and skilled accountant, I bet you don’t like doing taxes. It’s tedious, there’s the risk of doing it wrong, and it’ll always cost you time and money.

So what happens after you’ve been procrastinating for weeks and the deadline gets near? You start dreading the moment you’ll have to get to it, you’re even getting tense just thinking about it. And you can’t stop feeling uneasy about the whole thing. Which in turn makes the task feel even more awful.

What is happening for taxes for some, might happen for others when preparing a report, or calling an awful client to tell him his project is gonna be late. Like for hobbies and food, this is a matter of taste and experience. What is a joy for some is a pain for others. And it feels like it cannot change.

It’s too bad, because there is one easy solution.

Open up

However awful one activity seems, there is always a way to find fun in it. But first, you need to be open to the possibility.
In lots of cases, the feeling of repulsion is so strong and deep that it seems there’s no way in hell it would be better, let alone “fun”. But if you can find only one people in the world who believes that doing taxes can be fun, it means that there is no absolute rule that says you have to hate it.

If you don’t have to hate it, then maybe you might find a way to like it.

Find the fun

photo credit: Neal.

In any activity you do, there is a fun factor. Bring your candeur, bring your curiosity and forget about what you think you know. Do you like to play with numbers? Do you like to go on a quest to find where little things belong in the world? What do you think “doing taxes” is? It’s putting numbers at their right places and simply playing with them. You can choose to see any activity in a billion different ways, which means you can choose to see it in a way that’s frightening and disempowering or in a way that’s attractive and empowering. The more fun you’ll mentally create in the activity, the less fear you’ll feel, and the easier it’ll be to do it.

If there is something you have to or want to do, but it is frightening and you don’t know how to proceed, take 15 to 30 minutes to find the fun in it: how other people may have fun doing it, how it uses the same skills as things you like, etc.

It will build the positive anticipation until there is nothing you can do except doing it. Once you’re done, come and share your experience in the comments!

The key to appreciating life

I’m bearing the world on my shoulders.

Though I’m sure you do too.

Past a certain age, if we’re lucky, nobody’s taking care of our stuff anymore, which means that we are responsible for our own world. The job to perform, the bills to pay, the meals to prepare, the taxes to (reluctantly) take care of, and all the little things that seem to get in the way of success.

At first, it’s harmless, you just have to do that one little more thing. Then that other one. And so on and so forth. Little by little, you start to miss time for the things you have to do, let alone for those you actually want to do. So you go faster, or at least, you try to. And the time flies by even more.

It. Never. Stops.

The train

Splash (explore!)
photo credit: Grégoire Lannoy

At the station, you get on the train, find your seat, put your bags down, and finally sit down and wait for the train to depart. You look outside the window at the train next to yours, and suddenly everything starts to move. For an instant, you don’t know which train just started. It lasts only a second, then you get back to reality and know. But for a very brief moment, to you, movement was just that, a movement. One that could get you closer to your goal, or one that’s simply irrelevant.

It’s the same for your own tasks and activities. If you go 300mph, you can never know for sure whether you’re moving to get to your destination, or because you got used to the worry and the need to get things done faster. One sure thing: you don’t appreciate life. I know it because when I’m like that, it’s impossible for me to feel anything good. But it’s not hopeless. The solution is actually pretty easy.

The key to appreciating life.

Slow. Down.

It seem counter-intuitive, after all, you have plenty on your plate, if you slow down, you risk increasing anxiety.

But when you never stop to catch your breath, you never allow stress to go down. You can’t recharge your batteries. Your productivity plummets and you start to hate your whole situation.

Instead, when you walk, walk slowly. When you do something, choose only one activity. Cut your daily to-do list in half. Allow yourself to breathe.

Do one thing at a time, but do what matters.

When we’re trying to get everything done, we lose track of what’s important, and what’s not, everything simply has to “get done”. We don’t put our hearts into it, we don’t put anything, really, especially anything creative.

But when we slow down, everything starts to count. Instead of living in the imaginary destination, you can feel each step, ponder what the next one will feel like, instead of fighting and rushing for the next shortcut. Doing one more slow trip to the kitchen will not make you loose 10 seconds, but gain the same amount. Instead of pestering, picking up the dishing and quickly putting them into the machine, you can enjoy the touch of your fingers on the plates, the temperature difference between the living room and the fridge, and simply use that time to be there and enjoy.

Of course, you’re busy, but really, at the end of the day, will these 10 seconds really make a difference? Time itself is irrelevant, what matters is using it wisely. If you need 15 more minutes, don’t try to gain 5 seconds here and there by rushing and exhausting you. Why not instead shut off your phone and email when you need to be productive. Simply one less interruption will give you the time you need, to be productive, and to appreciate life, as you’re living it.

Then, next time you’ll take a high-speed train, you’ll know exactly why, and you’ll enjoy the scenery.