How to End Procrastination

Procrastination can be a dangerous beast, luring you away from difficult, important, and possibly life-changing activities with false promises and empty words. Learn to tame the beast by using a simple tool – a timer.

Here are the tools you will need: a timer (an oven or microwave timer, or even a watch will do if you don’t have a stand-alone timer); a task to be completed; and your amazing self.

Step 1. Make sure that you are dressed, and that you are wearing shoes. It’s so much easier to tackle a difficult task if you feel that you are prepared to face the day.

Step 2. Place your timer in a visible location. If you don’t have a timer, you can substitute a watch or clock. Don’t forget that you can always use the timer on an oven or microwave! Set the timer for fifteen minutes, five minutes, or thirty seconds – whatever you feel comfortable with. But no more than fifteen minutes.

Step 3. If you have to, close unnecessary computer windows, or turn off your computer completely so that you won’t be distracted. If you’ve been procrastinating something for a while, you’ll probably find that you’re feeling a bit angry, sad, overwhelmed, frustrated, or guilty at this point. Take a deep breath, and focus on your timer. Let these feelings go. If they try to return, say to yourself “I am a great person. I can do this.” It might sound silly, but believe me, it works.

Step 4. Press the start button on your timer. Clear all thoughts from your mind, and focus on the task at hand. Grab the broom and start sweeping, or schedule that dentist appointment, or write the first sentence of your first novel.

Step 5. When the timer goes off, stop what you are doing. Take a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back (physically or mentally) for doing a great job. You did do a great job; ending procrastination is one of the hardest things you can do.

Step 6. Repeat as necessary.

Tip 1: If you’re doing more than one timer session, limit yourself to three timer sessions in a row. Otherwise, you might bun out.

Tip 2: Stay positive. Don’t slip backwards into negative thinking.

Tip 3: Don’t forget to recognize and reward yourself. Even one timer session is a great step forward!

For more information about using timers to end procrastination, check out FlyLady and Using a Timer to End Procrastination.