Get on with it!

I am one of life’s procrastinators, the master of excuses, the multitasker, the daydreamer. The good news is that I’m not alone, but that fact doesn’t help me get on with it! In a nutshell, we procrastinate when we put things off that we should be focusing on right now – usually because:

  • there is something else going on that is more enjoyable
  • we find the task unpleasant or overwhelming
  • there is something else being demanded of us
  • we are perfectionists and don’t want to start something unless we feel we have the time to do it perfectly

But all is not lost - here is what Psychology Today says in terms of advice:
“Procrastinators can change their behavior … It can be done with highly structured cognitive behavioral therapy.”
Sounds like gobbledygook? Don’t panic, you can do the therapy yourself – use these top tips for beating procrastination, rather than beating yourself up:

  • Make yourself a prioritized “to do” list - check you don’t fill your day with unimportant, low priority tasks
  • As well as priorities, section your list into tasks you know you will usually do, and those you typically put off. Ensure you complete tasks from both lists each day
  • Promise yourself a reward if you complete something in a specific time
  • Get someone to check on you – peer pressure is good – this is the principle of all self help groups such as slimming clubs
  • Chunk the project into smaller tasks if you feel overwhelmed
  • Give yourself some quick early wins – get started
  • Work out the ramifications of what may happen if you don’t do it – this “stick” motivation may provide the impetus you need
  • Set aside blocks of time to do things and book it in your diary
  • Don’t multi-task – trying to do several things at once is a sure way to be sure they will be unfinished tomorrow
  • Eliminate distractions – remove clutter from your workspace, tidy your office, keep only the windows open on your computer that you need
  • Get yourself a timer – set it at 10 minutes and get started, acknowledge you don’t feel like doing it, but that 10 minutes will get you over the hard work of initiating – once you are involved, it is easier to stay with the task – and you haven’t allowed the task to be built into something bigger and more overwhelming than it is.

Whenever I feel myself dragging my feet on something, I set my timer up on my desk. Got to go now, the buzzer has just rung – see, 10 minutes is all it takes!

To contact Gill McKay, please email her at