Stop Procrastinating – Eat That Frog!

 There is one quality that one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants and a burning desire to achieve it – Napoleon Hill

Passionate people can’t wait to get up in the morning (always a good litmus test!), they are eager and energetic to get on with what needs to be done.  Passionate people live with purpose and determination.  Lots of us are passionate about things but there are times when we put things off, feel overwhelmed by all of the things we want or need to do, and then feel like we are being pulled from pillar to post and often end up getting nothing done.

One of the things I am seeing a lot of in my work is people sabotaging themselves by procrastinating.  It is a topic dear to my heart because I have often procrastinated to the old adage, “always put off today what you can do tomorrow”.  The interesting thing that has been happening for me is that the busier I get the more productive I have to be and I don’t actually have the luxury of procrastinating now.  I get up and get things done, even when I don’t feel like I because if I don’t  then I will not be holding up my end of an agreement, or not completing things that are due which makes me feel bad and causes me oodles of stress.

Procrastination is a strategy that our brain runs when we feel overwhelmed, or when the payoff doesn’t seem high enough.  It is the process or habit of putting off or delaying something, especially something requiring immediate attention.  According to research by Dr Piers Steel, 95% of people will put off to tomorrow what they could do today.  Other research states that 20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators (Psychology Today, July 2010).  For these people procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one.  It cuts across all domains of their life –  they don’t pay bills on time; they miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts or events; they don’t cash gift certificates or checks; they file tax returns and BAS late; they leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve.

Procrastination reduces productivity, erodes team trust and coherence, sabotages businesses and is one of the big factors in people feeling stressed and unhappy.

It is often said that “busy people get things done”, or “if you want something done give it to a busy person”.  Here are some tips that are useful in breaking the “stuckness” that procrastination causes:

  • Get clear – define the task specifically.  The more vague the task, or the more abstract the thinking it requires, the less likely you are to finish it.
  • Start small and make it achievable – success builds motivation.
  • Know your “why” – when you are focused to why you want to achieve something it makes the “what and how” easier.
  • Stay focused – Leo Babuta from suggests writing the work FOCUS on a 5×8 card and leaving it in a prominent place, like you desk, so you can continually see it and consciously remind yourself to stay FOCUSED.
  • Prioritise your tasks – pick the 3 most important tasks and do the one that excites you the most first.
  • Focus on one task at a time.
  • Work in time-bytes – time yourself for 25-30 minutes and work productively for that time, then repeat it.  All of us can do just about anything for 25 minutes.
  • Zen your environment – it’s really hard to get and stay motivated when you are working amongst chaos and clutter.  Develop the habit of clearing your desk at the end of each day so it is ‘zenned” to start fresh first thing in the morning.
  • Block your use of the internet so that you can’t be distracted.  Allocate certain times at the end of the day to play, surf, immerse yourself online.
  • Manage your email – only look at your email twice a day.  Turn off your alerts and resist to urge to read them as they arrive. Only look in your inbox at 9.30 am and 4 pm and decal with emails then.
  • Build anticipation – set a day sometime in the future and make that your start date.  By delaying your start you begin to look forward to doing the task and your motivation grows.

I hope these ideas help if you find yourself procrastinating about anything.  And remember, sometimes things get more chaotic once your start something before it reaches a tipping point and gets more organised – a bit like cleaning out the garage or spare room – it always gets messier and harder before you get to a point of having sorted it out properly!

I would be delighted if you would share with me your ideas and strategies to reduce procrastination.  Please email me at


Posted in On Self Organisation