This one small thing helped curb my procrastination…

Dearest reader – I must confess something to you. My whole life I have fallen victim to a pretty bad habit. PROCRASTINATION. I just love putting stuff off. Maybe you do too? Well today I thought I’d share something that has helped me drastically reduce my procrastination practice…

how to stop procrastinating

I started timing myself. Doing, like…all types of things. Things I didn’t want to do. (Like chores and lengthy email responses to clients.) Things I did want to do. (Like read a couple chapters of a book.) Stuff for work and stuff for this very blog.

I would start the timer. Do the task. Stop the timer.

Ok, ok. I know that sounds a little quirky…or maybe downright weird. Maybe you’re picturing me at my desk dressed like a high school gym teacher with an old school stop watch hanging around my neck. Well, a) phones and computers have timers so no need for a stop watch, and b) STAY WITH ME…

When I decided I wanted to curb my procrastination, I tried to identify what was causing me to put stuff off in the first place. And I found that usually it was because, in my brain, whatever I needed to do would just take too long. It would be a whole thing…an ORDEAL.

“Why start now? What if I can’t finish?”
“I’ll just edit this copy tomorrow when I have more time…”
“Oof, do a load of laundry?! That’s gonna have to wait until the weekend.”

For whatever reason, my conception of time was on the long side.  Like, for EVERYTHING. Mostly for things that didn’t sound appealing…but sometimes for things that did! (I’m lookin’ at YOU self-care!)

So I thought – “Let’s nip this temporal uncertainty in the bud once and for all!”

How long did it actually take to do the dishes and compile monthly analytics reports for clients and post fun Instagram stories? *Spoiler alert* Way less time than I initially thought! Suddenly there was less of a foreboding excuse looming nearby when I needed to get something done. I didn’t need to wait for that mythical 3 hour chunk of free-time later in the week. I had 10 minutes NOW.

how to stop procrastinating

Recently, I was doing some work for a client as I waited for a flight in the Lexington airport (free WiFi yay!). The gate agent came on the PA and announced that boarding was about to begin. A quick wave of panic washed over me because I still needed to create and schedule an email to go out to my client’s email list. My brain immediately tried to shift the work to later. “I’ll just have to buy WiFi at my layover airport, ” I thought. When I realized…WAIT. I know this will take me twenty minutes, at most! I’m in boarding Section 4… Let’s DO THIS!

Because I KNEW I could get it done in the allotted amount of time, I had no reason to procrastinate. I just banged it out and boarded the plane when I was done. (And subsequently spent my whole layover reading an awesome novel!)

Will this work for everyone? Maybe not. Your procrastination might be caused by a completely different thought-spiral than mine. But just in case you find yourself pushing things back in your calendar (and back…and back again…)–GIVE IT A TRY! The results may surprise you. Now, go be productive! You’ve got time.

How do you deal with procrastination? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. The one small thing I do every day to put myself in a good mood…

 

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4 thoughts on “This one small thing helped curb my procrastination…

  1. I identify so hard with this in a lot of areas of my life! I’m finally trying to have an adult status night time routine (floss, skin care, etc) and one thing that has helped me stick with it better was timing it and realizing my excuse of being too tired to do these things didn’t really hold up when it all took less than 10 minutes.

    The other thing that has helped me and is totally related to time, is breaking down tasks into chunks that will take no more than a few hours. It’s so much easier to procrastinate big things like “finish results for new paper” and way easier to start things like “edit code for linear regression”.

    I also use the Pomodoro Technique a lot. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

    I’m still a pretty bad procrastinator, but I’m totally going to start timing myself more. It helped once and seeing this post makes me think I’ve underutilized that solution. I’m also procrastinating right now by writing this comment, which is why it’s so long. Loved this post. 🙂

    1. I was experimenting with the Pomodoro Technique a bit a few months ago and then we moved and I totally forgot about it until now. I should give it another go! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

      Relieved to know there are other procrastinators out there workin’ through it!!

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