Everybody knows the Putitovs. They are those voices in your head telling you that you can put it off until later. People who really have trouble with the Putitovs call themselves procrastinators. Some people bring in the Head Nazis to give orders about starting.

In the fullness of time, most people learn to deal with the Putitovs with some kind of scheduling. But maybe you don’t want to wait for the fullness of time. And maybe you aren’t all that good at taking orders. Then what?

You might bring in some other voices. After all, it is your head. For example, try the Startalittles. They are much easier to have around than the Head Nazis.

The theme of the Startalittle is, you guessed it, take any job that you want to put off and start it a little. Don’t spend much time. About twenty minutes should do for a Startalittle. Here are several ways to start a little:

Make a plan in your head of how you will do the job.

Make a list of several things you will need to do at the beginning.

Collect ideas about how other people do a job like this.

Ask around about how other people do the job.

Ask other people how they feel about doing a job like this.

Imagine starting the job. Imagine what will happen as you get going on it.

Break the job plan into mini-projects and do the first mini-project.

You get two benefits from the Startalittles. First, the parts of your brain that manage concrete jobs get a head start on the job. They can begin working on details while you do something else. Once you get your brain started, it may come up with other things for you to do while you get started. If the job takes a lot of planning, exploring, or thinking things through, you will probably find that those other parts of your brain get a lot of the groundwork done before you really start.

The other benefit you get from the Startalittles is that you improve your estimate of the time the job will take. Most jobs look easier in the abstract. When you get down to the concrete work, you begin to get a better feel for how much time you will have to spend. If you get that feel early on, you can make a better estimate of when you need to start.

Procrastination is just another name for underestimating the work.

Author's Bio: 

S. H. Evans was Professor of Psychology at Texas Christian University and an independent consultant in behavioral research. He retired some years ago. He now provides consulting to the Applied Cognitive Research Lab at TCU and maintains a website in collaboration with Dr. D. F. Dansereau. The site, thinkerer.org, provides simple, commonsense tools for self-improvement, self-growth, and self-direction.