A quick technique to overcome procrastination

Procrastination is an expensive business, losing us valuable opportunities, time and money – especially when we’re trying to relaunch our career or start a business.

We can all think of times that, instead of getting on with something productive, we’ve made a cup of tea, checked Facebook or tackled the ironing (it’s amazing how even the most dreaded household tasks can suddenly become urgent when we have something we need to do!). But in fact, learning to cut out these time-wasting procrastinations and instead tackle the project at hand can help us achieve more and inch closer towards our goals.

A simple but effective technique for procrastination

Experienced coach and consultant Anna Davis has a solution to help us work smarter. The next time you find yourself looking for something to distract you from an important task, invest an hour in this simple but effective technique to overcome procrastination. And look forward to gaining many more hours of productive work time.

The technique is based on two principles:

  1. We are more effective when we have a deadline.
  2. Tasks are always easier once we have started them.

Four steps to overcoming procrastination

To practise the technique, simply follow these four steps:

  1. Clear one hour in your diary.
  2. Pick two projects or areas of work which are very different, including one that you’ve been resisting. These are projects A and B. (It may seem strange focussing on two projects at once, but you’ll soon get used to it.)
  3. Get a kitchen timer or use a mobile phone timer app.
  4. Work on your projects in the following order:
      • Project A (5 minutes exactly)
      • Project B (5 minutes exactly)
      • Project A (10 minutes exactly)
      • Project B (10 minutes exactly)
      • Project A (15 minutes exactly)
      • Project B (15 minutes exactly) 

Some important tips to help this technique work 

  • Reduce distractions by turning off phones/email etc. If you are distracted, just restart your timer from the time of the distraction.
  • Make sure you stop when the times goes off, however tempted you are to carry on. It’s much easier to restart something that’s incomplete than to start something from scratch.
  • Once your time ends on one project, start the next one straight away.
  • Make sure your projects are quite different.
  • Set yourself limited targets for each time burst. It might help to break your project into bite-sized, manageable chunks.
  • Be ready to have unfinished work lying around. Use plastic folders to keep paperwork in – this will motivate you to finish it!
  • There are different variations on this theme and different levels of sophistication for use in different situations and for more projects. 

Use this procrastination technique whenever you need it

At the end of this simple technique, you’ll have achieved a surprising amount of work, and will have started making considerable progress on two projects that you will then feel more motivated to continue.

You may find that just trying this technique once gives you enough of a kick start to keep you going on your projects for days or weeks. Or you could find the technique so useful and productive you implement it every day to get you going.

If you’d like to learn more proven procrastination techniques, and get experienced support to implement them, get in touch with Anna