People who say procrastination is about laziness are like people who think that anorexia is about not eating enough.

Case in point:  As I started to write this article, I thought, “I’ll just go check my Facebook messages first.”

Then I caught myself in the act and started writing.

Now, I wasn’t tempted to dive into Facebook because I’m lazy.

I was going to dive into Facebook because it’s hard to write an article, and I get a little jittery before I write!  On the other hand, it’s easy to scroll through a stream of other people’s thoughts.  That doesn’t make me jittery at all.

That’s it. Plain and simple.

I’m betting that, like me, you’re not lazy.

I’m betting you’re scared.

I’m betting you’re a perfectionist.

I’m betting you’re overwhelmed.

Or, you’re all three. (Plus a few other things thrown in the mix.)

The good news is that you can train yourself to get stuff done. Look at me, for instance. Almost everything I’ve accomplished or created came because I tricked my needy, fearful, anxious little ego to step to the side and let me do my thing.

Here are 8 of my favorite tricks to help even the worst procrastinator break the habit:

 

1 – Take one little step.

When I read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I noticed something.  I noticed that when Stephen King gets an idea, he writes it.  Immediately and imperfectly.

Most people get an idea.

Then they sit there.

They wonder if it’s a good idea.

Then, they wonder if it’s a good idea some more.

Stop doing this.

Next time you get an idea…

…do something tiny. Write a paragraph, pick up the phone, make an outline. Do something.

 

2 – Use small windows.

Everyone complains about having no time.

My guess is that we all have lots of time. It just doesn’t happen to be all at once.

Are you waiting for many hours of spare time to begin your idea, your project, or your taxes?   Stop waiting!  Learn to use the spare half hour that comes up here and there. (I gave myself 45 minutes to write this article just to take my own advice.)

 

3 – Do it badly.

Set a goal to do it badly. Set a goal to show up.  Let go of doing it ALL, or doing it WELL.

Some of my coaching clients’ biggest victories have a lot more to do with getting over perfectionism and fear than they do about getting it all done perfectly.

 

4 – Get accountability.

Call a friend and say something like this: “I’m going to spend the next hour working on creating my new product.” Then go do it.

Call the friend after the half hour and make her congratulate you. Repeat daily.

 

5 – Define quantities.

Nebulous goals make for nebulous results.

“I need to write more” is a lot like saying, “We should do something about climate change.”

Most procrastinators have a hard time defining quantities. We think everything needs to be done NOW.

So here are three defining questions to answer before you start on a project or task:

1 – When are you going to do it? (What exact time?)

2 – For how long will you do it? (Until when?)

3 – What small section are you going to work on? (Chapter 3, your top drawer, your bio, etc)

Define the goal, acknowledge its completion and get the dopamine hit you so need.

 

6 – Do it first.

My very first coach made me write first thing in the morning. He told me to schedule the 2-hour time block as my first activity upon waking.

Why?

His words: “Because you’re telling the universe that this is your priority. And then the universe lines up everything to align with your priority.”

Action grounds your priorities. It makes them real. It also makes your day easier because you’re not wasting energy thinking about this thing you’re supposed to be doing.

 

7 – Avoid “nose-bleed” activities.

Email, voicemail, web stats – any activity that bleeds itself into your whole day becomes a non-activity.  It becomes a nose-bleed.

When you do it all the time, you never complete it. You just let it slowly drain the very life force from you.  Define times for these activities. Then, turn off your email, your cell phone, your web stats, until that time comes.

 

8 – Never ask how you “feel” about it.

Have you ever committed to getting fit? And then when the alarm goes off, you lie in bed thinking, “Do I really feel like going to the gym?” (Like you even have to ask!)

Change this pattern. Make your decision the night before. Commit to getting up and going right to the gym, the computer, the blank canvas. Don’t have coffee and sigh and think, “I’ll probably feel more like it at lunchtime.” You won’t!

If it’s a priority, don’t waste time asking yourself how you feel about doing it. Feelings are an easy out.

———————————

There. I did it.

I wrote this article.

(And now I don’t even want to go to Facebook. How about that?)

Now, your turn…

Pick one of these questions (or all three) and answer in the comments…

1 – What’s your favorite procrastination activity?   (Confess it here so you can catch yourself in the act next time.)

2 – What tool or strategy helps you stay on track and not procrastinate? (Do you use it regularly?)

3 – After you comment, what’s the one small thing you will go and get done immediately?

63 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Pia

    I tend to start “Just” tidying up something that coupé actually wait and Then I get caught up in tidyingup and completely miss that window for what I wanted to do.

    2. I’ve started applying a 3 step technique I used for my little son, by defining and repeating out Lois the 3 things I will do next; e.g. sew (the priority thing), clean desk, play.

  • Patty

    Thank you for these amazing pieces of advice. Love them all! After reading this article I immediately started doing a 5-minute routine to work out.
    The final questions opened my mind to discovering accountability had helped me achieved goals in the past. This not only made me reflect I should continue using this strategy, but to ask me why I could not commit with myself to just do it. Blessings and thank you again.

  • Anissa

    This is great! My procrastination activity is avoiding my to-do list by finding other things to do that aren’t even on my to-do list. I keep my to-do’s in my head, get confused, and then can never figured out where I’m at. You’ve presented these suggestions in a way that allows me to apply them to specific areas of my life and my daily challenges. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

  • Noha zakarya

    -TV
    – thinking of what should I really do now to improve my life
    -writing my own CV

  • Andrea

    1. My favorite procrastination activity… playing “one song” on my guitar before getting to the project or task at hand. It’s never just one song!

  • Jennifer Kane

    It is funny how many people can relate to this article. It is me all rolled up, I blame a lot of my procrastination on my ADHD, I have a million projects going, I get distracted way too easy. When I listen to Podcasts I get all pumped up then the next day happens……

  • Lisa

    Thank you. I just sat down with my 5 minutes of alone time and told myself I’d work on a song, and let it be not perfect. What resulted was the most inspired bit of flow-writing that I’ve had in a long time and a sing that I feel like I want to go back and work on and sing more now- the key for me was taking that pressure off of the expectation of producing something perfect once I finally sit down- hence I never sit down! Thank you for such simple, specific and useful advice and for walking the walk!
    Lisa
    Oxford, UK

  • Ade

    1. I like to sleep a lot or stress a lot and sleep late.
    2. I love to commit the night before, and not entertain how I feel about it to move on.
    3. I commit to listening to Vision Board listening number 1 on Wednesday this week 4pm UK time, plus have booked my place.

  • Nico

    I so relate to your newsletter on procrastination! I find practically ANY excuse to avoid doing what I should – from making a cup of tea, hanging out a load of washing, cleaning my desk …. when really what I should be doing is preparing for a workshop in 3 days time! Blah.
    I have a couple of webinars coming up right now, but at 2pm my target is to get back on my prep work. I want to have my resources all finalised by tonight!
    Thanks Christine 🙂

  • Karron Lee

    Yes, I am a procrastinator, a perfectionist and afraid. I get all these grandeoso ideas, then I am not sure how or where to start, then time slips by and I feel I have lost the moment and the momentum! Yikes! This article on procrastination fits me to a T. I am going to try your 8 suggestions, thanks!

  • Violet Detre

    1- Researching
    2- Giving myself a start by time
    3- Today is my relax day, so tomorrow I will complete a realistic marketing goal that I can celebrate!

  • Adriana

    I wouldn’t call it my favorite escape route, I am aware that I resort to it because it is easier…TV even if the shows are trashy; Social Media- FB, Instagram, emails, YOUTUBE!!! or just sitting, wondering what do next of the very long list of things to do.
    What works for me is to do a list the night before of the priorities that need to be taken care of the following day. I list 3-5 items, before falling asleep I set the intention that first thing in the morning those items will be completed.
    it works when I do it, I have been doing it more often now, 3-5 times a week, since I want to grow my business, have a more organized household.
    …and once I hit post comment, I’ll be sorting out the cookbooks that I no longer need (while listening to a subliminal on YouTube to stop procrastination…). I’m in the process of decluttering the whole house, kitchen’s turn today!
    Thank you!

  • Leona johnson

    What’s my favourite procrastination activity? Facebook, facebook, emails, facebook. Arrrggghh! I need it for work but I get trapped and sucked in, then I stop work but I need to find out what’s happening socially, then I need it to arrange a gathering with kids parents. And I don’t think I do it that much, and it’s interesting and leads me to good things but it’s too much.

    2.what helps me stay on track… spending at least 20 minutes in nature first thing. Watching one of your talks, ( problem is I read or watch them at night and then I can’t sleep as my head is buzzing with ideas, getting some small successs early on in the day, things ticked off the list.

    3. I’m going to tidy my room. It’s the space that always gets left a mess, lowest priority, but it’s my rest space, I want it to be nice. X

  • Beverly

    Asking how do I feel. Just today, I did not go exercise, I decided to eat and say I’ll do it later. Later never came. Now, I will get the schedules together and prepare for the selected daily classes that I’d like to take the day prior. Thank you for the article. It was right on time!

  • Susan Powell

    Great Post – Enjoyed wasting time to read it… 😉 My biggest time waster – Facebook & Pinterest (aka crack for housewives) . All the time, on my laptop, phone, iPad – thank God it can’t be downloaded directly to my brain or else I’d be a zombie.
    So, what did I do today..? After reading your email (not a time waster btw) I went directly to my business invoicing program and finished up all my outstanding invoicing, over 3k in money waiting to be sent to me! Then I sent over 12 fabric samples to my client for her custom seat cushions. Then I sat down and judged 6 student web sites for the Annual Chicago History H.S. Fair then I came here to the comments section to add my 2 cents. Now it’s time for a glass of adult fruit juice.
    Till tomorrow!

  • lynn

    I procrastinate by doing housework….straightening things up, dusting, etc. I also decide I have to walk the dog! Ugh, so frustrating knowing I need to write, but I I think about what can I write that will be any different from anyone else and what do I have to say that will solve a problem or what worked for me? Too many monkey mind thoughts.

    When I am finished with this post, I am going to go on word and begin typing – just stream of thought typing – not worrying about the first post being perfect.
    So, thanks. Bye for now – I have some typing to do.

  • Elizabeth Musgrave

    1. Facebook, email.
    2. Do It First! I will schedule time every morning to devote to my projects.
    3. I will start my book
    Amen and Aho!
    Thank you Christine

  • Maggie

    This is just the motivation I needed. I’m going to get to work now on my new client information packets… even if I don’t finish them perfectly today.

  • Shawn

    My procrastination technique is Cartoon Network. I can get a cup of coffee or tea ant flavor turn on the T.V. That’s it…… I still try to write down ideas or changes but the I go through the what if syndromes.

  • Tova Ramer

    Make my list of to do’s, review, time quantify and start checking them off.

  • Tova Ramer

    Hmm? Let me think about that.

  • Saras Naidoo

    My favourite procrastination technique is playing games. It like I have withdrawal symptoms if I don’t play games.
    2. Meditation and listening to motivational talks
    3.not regularly enough.

  • Ingrid

    My favorite procrastination technique has been scrolling through FB every morning instead of getting up to pray, excercise, prepare meals or read. Instead of doing anything for me to be better and more productive.

  • Sabrina Haid

    Here you go again, being my Light Bulb (A-Ha moment) Pusher.

    1 – What’s your favorite procrastination activity? (Confess it here so you can catch yourself in the act next time.) FaceBook and/or YouTube

    2 – What tool or strategy helps you stay on track and not procrastinate? (Do you use it regularly?) I have none — yet (lightbulb #1)

    3 – After you comment, what’s the one small thing you will go and get done immediately? Eat breakfast, get dressed (in real clothes not jammies, ie: sweats and a Tshirt) and take care of me (lightbulb #2 — self-care is mandatory)

  • Sandy

    1. My favorite procrastination activity is checking my FB and email messages.
    2. I need to move away from my kitchen table and actually go to the location (office, art room) where my task that needs taken care of is actually located.
    3. I will put my phone down and start moving, and stop thinking about the big picture by focusing on one task at s time.

  • Tori

    Thank you Christine. I felt this article was about me! It has actually made me feel so much better – I am a ‘I am behind and have to do it all now, perfectly!’ person so struggle doing certain things in case I do them badly or don’t do my subject enough justice! But when I actually read back what I have written I impress myself 😆

    My procrastination technique is I check communications – my text messages, WhatsApp, messenger and email to see if something more important has come up, and if nothing has have a ‘quick’ look at my Facebook feed – again to see if anything important has come up……Then I get distracted and do other things instead.

    What helps me is getting up early, meditating and having some me time before my husband and daughter wake up. But to do this I need to remember to go to bed early and then listen to my alarm when it goes off!

    Your article has really inspired me. I am currently on a train off for a friend’s engagement party, so I am going to, right now, make a few notes and plan my morning for tomorrow, and then I will remind myself to reread this email first thing and then take action!

  • Jackie

    I put on my computer and start watching shows or YouTube (notifications).
    Am finding it hard to start my business,I always say tomorrow I’ll do what it takes,then I say I’ll do it tomorrow.
    Mostly I can’t find anyone who I ask for capital to start my business,so mostly am discouraged.

    • Christine Kane

      Start by learning how to make money by getting clients or customers, Jackie. Not by getting capital.

  • Joelle

    I usually use Netflix, checking e-mails (after I already have done that), and staring at my FB feed as a way to procrastinate.
    It starts off with “let me just check on things and see what is going on”, then I go down the rabbit hole.

  • Laurie

    Loved this article. I have so much shame around my procrastination habit so I generally refuse to even look at it. These suggestions are on point. I’m going to print this and use it to begin undoing this lifelong habit. Email is my big distraction. Thank you for writing!! Now I’m going to spend some time in prayer, read, journal and get on to the next priority!

  • Rachel Frees

    Good morning. My favorite procrastination I believe is checking emails that may show me a better way of doing something. It’s always been a joy to learn them, but unfortunate always been the fear of not being consistent or knowing all the details how to carry out something that has caused me to shrink down and fall back into dreaming about the ability to see what needs to be done and just getting up and doing it. Fear of failure! There… Confession Complete! Thank you fir this article. If you could only understand how it helped my heart to see that I was not just some strange default and everyone else in the world has some insane courage to just do the next step that needs to get done…. You would see a special gift you have. Thank you! Lord bless -Rachel

  • Clara

    On point! Need to do all these! Started with 1-3 and got results! So I’m going to try doing all!
    Thanks Christine!

  • Darryl Stewart

    Great article CK – I used this as my backdrop & inspiration for my 4 fourth EFT Tapping video on resistance to taking action in our businesses. Hope you enjoy this.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WRZ5piQK8Q

  • Julia Pimsleur

    I agree that overcoming procrastination can be a real struggle, particularly when you are also a recovering perfectionist like I am! I often have to remind myself of the maxim is on the wall at the Facebook offices: “Better done than perfect.” Having just written my first book (Million Dollar Women: The Essential Guide for Female Entrepreneurs Who Want to Go Big) I had to find time in increments as small as 15 minutes in between getting my kids to school, working out and running my business – but those 15 minutes all add up! And it’s so important to not let yourself off the hook just because you don’t have a full hour or longer to write.

  • Gerard

    Great article another way to put it is to prioritise I run a small family business and at times I am over loaded by the work load as my business is seasonal . Every now and then I stop and question myself and re prioritise have a break and then the drive and the determination comes back. I also sometimes look back at the beginning and appreciate how far I have come.

  • Gerard

    Great article another way to put it is to prioritise I run a small family business and at times I am over loaded by the work load as my business is seasonal . Every now and then I stop and question myself and re prioritise have a break and then the drive and the determination comes back. I also sometimes look back at the beginning and appreciate how far I have come.

  • Trish

    Brilliant stuff. I know I am not lazy … but yes fear that I can relate to. I build up walls before I even start the process. That critical voice needs to be eliminated. Thanks so much!

  • Wendy Feller

    I am new to your blog and have really enjoyed reading through some of your posts so far. Though I don’t consider myself a procrastinator, It has been a problem lately as I try to take my business to the next level. I really appreciate reading these strategies and am inspired to put them into action. I can’t wait to read more!

    • Christine Kane

      Welcome Wendy! And yes, this is a common occurrence! Right before you take your business to the next level, you will often meet the greatest amount of resistance. It’s subtle – but it’s all that mindset stuff (and fear) — and it’s worth taking the time to be aware of it and continue to move forward!

  • Dianne Bowler

    Ugh, I feel like you are in my head, particularly the point about perfectionism and fear – it’s been paralyzingly me! Thank you so much for these great strategies.

  • Marion Ryan

    Love the tips, Christine, particularly #9. Telling myself I don’t really “feel like” walking / writing / finishing a job usually seems like all the permission I need not to do it. So I’m going to stop debating with myself how I feel and just do what I committed already I wanted to get done.

  • Antreina

    I can’t thank you enough. #2~Take small chunks… baby steps. A little is better than nothing. #4~Commit out loud. Simple and progressive. #8~ Nose bleed. Now on to narrowing down all my ideas. Thanks for your time. I’m very grateful!

  • Sabine

    Thank you, Christine, for this well written post. Exactly what I needed to begin my week with. 🙂 You nailed the most important points, thanks!

  • Life Coach Intern

    Thanks for sharing! You know, I want to practice life coaching for some time. But kept procrastinating.
    I finally did something these few days! That’s exactly achieved by applying #1-4! I started my own coaching project! It’s small now though. My idea has not yet been completely implemented. The idea might not be running very smoothly at the beginning for sometime! But I know these are what I should do:
    1 – When you get an idea, do some little thing to begin.
    2 – All hail small chunks of time!
    3 – Agree to do it badly.
    4 – Commit aloud.

    Hope everyone here would do something to fight your procrastination shortly too! Good luck~

  • Emelia Sam

    Good practical advice. I’m inspired to finish an article by this evening…and I even have more than 45 minutes to do it!

  • Alyson

    It’s great to read this article, thank you. 🙂 It’s also so very confirming, because I can see my progress over the last couple of years (of doing several things you mention). Besides perfectionism and overwhelm, my biggest obstacle used to be that I had trouble estimating time frames, so I would “schedule” about four hours worth of goals into a 2-hour window. Now THAT can lead to some serious anxiety. I have a book to recommend. It changed my life! 🙂 Check out David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Amazing book! Best of luck everyone. . . <3!

  • Jeanne B

    Wow. #7 really resonates. So, if there’s something I’d like to have as the priority in my life, I should make a point of doing it first? Cool! Tomorrow’s Saturday, perfect day to start on that (not procrastinating, it’s just… it’s 10PM now. Day’s over!). My nosebleed is FarmVille. “Just going to check my crops real quick—” Four hours later… Great tips, all of them! Thank you again, Christine!

  • Alison

    Woah! Great inspiration and tips. I have had a non-procrastination week by coincidence and it has been far from perfect, but I’ve made a start and this article has really really helped. Thank you.

  • Nanette Saylor

    Wow! What a great list of tips. I particularly love #6: Have fewer goals. Have no more than three priorities for a week.
    Why?
    Because you’re not lazy. You’re just trying to do too much.
    It took me YEARS to figure this one out, but when I did, boy was that liberating!
    Thank you for providing me the opportunity to validate that I’m not crazy!
    Wishing you well-
    Nanette

    • Christine Kane

      Right there with you Nanette! For some of my clients and students, the minute they set that bar just a little lower so they can actually COMPLETE something – their whole lives change!

    • Katy

      Someone told me that more than 10 things on a TO DO list, is actually a WISH list!!

  • Valanda

    I, too, love this post as it very much describes me. You have provided some very attainable pointers that I will be including in my life. Thanks a bunch for writing this blog.

  • Jeannie Spiro

    Hi Christine,
    Love this post! I particularly like point #7. I’ve just started doing this and I feel it’s made a tremendous difference.
    Great tips overall!
    Jeannie