Have you ever had a problem motivating yourself to meet a deadline?
This was such an issue for me when I was working on my book Build What You Want.
I’ve done the legwork – the research, surveys, interviews – no problem there. But when it came down to the actual writing part, pen to paper (or in my case, fingers on the keyboard)… oh my goodness, I faced such internal resistance.
I tried all the productivity and motivational tricks in my box of things-to-get-you-moving. I even re-read Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art” a couple of times, thinking that ought to guilt me into action.
Nope. The book that had always gotten me off my tuckus didn’t do it for me this time.
Nothing worked until a friend suggested something I’d have never thought of by myself. That’s another lesson about knowing when to ask for help, but I digress.
It is the one trick that worked, and it goes like this:
Step 1. Come up with the target deadline date for your “project” (i.e., the goal, task, or activity that you want to complete).
Step 2. Identify a separate unrelated action that you really loathe to do.
Step 3. Commit to finishing your project by your deadline date, or else, you’ll have to do the action item you identified in Step 2 above.
It is the opposite of the reward incentive (i.e., you give yourself a reward if you finish X on time), which usually works for me, but not this time.
For this motivation trick to work, the completion of the project (step 1) should be within your control and largely dependent on you doing the work. That is, you’re not sitting and waiting for others to finish their bits.
AND, the action that you select in Step 2 should be something you’d really REALLY hate to have to perform. Not something you only mildly dislike. That won’t work.
Here’s how I applied this trick.
I chose a cause that I was totally against. Then, I committed to donating a sum of money to this cause if I didn’t finish the book draft by a certain date. For accountability, I announced my “vow” to a few people who’d hold me to it.
The mere possibility that I might actually send a check for something I did not support made me want to write and drove me to my laptop like nothing else.
And it worked! I finished the book and met my target completion date!
I don’t know that I will use this approach for all my projects going forward. It reminds me a little of being put on “time-out” unless I do my homework. But it certainly will go into my bag of tricks to be pulled out whenever my inner procrastination diva has run amok.
Can you see yourself using this tactic to motivate yourself? What other motivation tricks have you used to get you moving?