I recently realized that when I'm procrastinating something, it's because there's something I need first.
If I'm procrastinating making a decision, it's often because I don't have all the information I need.
If I'm procrastinating a task, it's usually because I need to do or get something first. For example, I need to change the lightbulb above the garage door. But first, I need to buy or borrow a ladder.
Other times when I'm procrastinating a task, it's because it's actually a multi-step process. Several years ago when I was preparing to move, the task "back up old desktop computer to external hard drive" was on my to-do list for weeks and I couldn't quite figure out why I was procrastinating it. When I finally forced myself to do it, I realized why. That list should have read:
1) Move boxes out of the way so I can get to old desktop in the closet.
2) Find power converter so I can plug in desktop computer.
3) Plug in and turn on.
4) Get external hard drive out of safe.
5) Locate files on computer to back up.
6) Plug in external hard drive.
7) Select and transfer files from computer to external hard drive.
That one little thing on my to-do list took up half a day. No wonder I was putting it off: I didn't have a realistic, actionable task on my list. I needed to break it down into steps.
Something I'm trying not to procrastinate right now is unpacking our moving boxes. But the secret to unpacking is, you have to have someplace to put the stuff when you open the boxes. The movers mixed all our stuff together (that I had spent WEEKS organizing) so that each box I open is a mess of kids' toys, old baby clothes and mementos, kitchen items, things that belong in the garage, etc. It's a nightmare. So before I can unpack, the first step is to decide where things are going to go, and get those locations ready. Then when I open a box I can actually put things away instead of wondering, "Where am I going to put all this stuff??"
Another major reason I procrastinate is being afraid I'm going to screw it up (also known as "fear of failure"). I'll put something off for a long time when I'm afraid I'm going to do it wrong, or badly. Of course the better thing to do in this case is the opposite of procrastinating: start early so I have plenty of time to do it well. If that doesn't get me going, again I ask myself what I NEED. Maybe the answer is, I need some help to do it well.
What are you procrastinating right now? Can you figure out if there is something you need first?