Save Yourself from Procrastination


We all procrastinate. There are lots of possible reasons to explain it: it’s a task we don’t feel we’re good at or we resent having to do it because we don’t think it’s our job or it’s just not as much fun as what we feel like doing.

Whatever the cause of procrastination, sometimes what we really need right now is a trick. Yes, a trick to bypass whatever makes us avoid a task, and GET IT DONE. You don’t have to like it, but you do have to do it.

A favorite technique: The 20-minute timer.

You may not know where to begin. You don’t have to. Just set a 20-minute timer, start it and immediately start the first thing you can think of to move ahead on the particular task. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just do something. Find the purchase orders, open Excel, find the phone number of the person you’ve been avoiding calling back. Whatever.

In fact, you can even figure out the first step on the clock.

Here’s the essence of the trick: You don’t need to know how to finish the task or how long it will take. You just need to get started. Part of why we avoid things is that we are frozen because we can’t see our way through a particular item. Just getting started breaks the ice and things start to happen.

Just starting an avoided task can flood one with relief. It’s an immediate improvement over the nagging, back-of-the-mind anxiety of avoiding it. Then, once you are doing it, it’s very often not as bad as feared. It’s just one-foot-after-the-other for 20 minutes, without worrying if it’s enough or about getting to the end.

Sometimes you do finish. Great, all done! Often, you don’t, but you may be so fueled by the momentum of getting started that setting the timer for another 20 minutes doesn’t seem so bad. And sometimes, 20 minutes is enough for now.

But progress has been made. It’s a no-lose proposition. You will make progress. If you stay on task for 20 minutes you can’t help it, you will move ahead.

Now go, set a timer. Give yourself a break and take a bite out of that procrastination feeling.

Access our Free Resources

Sign up today and gain instant access to our collection of free resources including reports, videos, and our newsletter archive.