How to Stop Procrastinating

Stop Procrastinating

Stop Procrastinating

On Monday I told you about my little encounter with Vogue magazine and how I needed to flip through 120 pages of ads to get to the first article.  The first article, however, caught my eye and I decided to give it a read.

I’m glad I did.

The article is called “Late or Never?” by Adam Green, a Saturday Night Live writer and Vogue theater critic, who is also a major procrastinator.  Adam starts by saying how he was always late on his writing assignments and this in turn gave him a bad reputation.  I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the Vogue edition in front of me, but his reputation for being late was so bad that when his former boss left the company, she received a mocked copy of the magazine with the headline “Adam submitted an article on time!” – or something along those lines.

Adam didn’t want to be known as the “late guy” so he decided to seek the help of a coach to help him change his behavior.  He reached out to Mark McGuinness, a creative coach, poet, and psychotherapist.

McGuinness suggested a few simple things that helped Adam accomplish most of his tasks and help him be more productive with his time.  I also started using some of his tactics and I’ve found myself being able to get more things done.

How to Stop Procrastinating

Create a To-Do List – This one is so simple that most of us think it’s a waste of time, but it really does help.  List all your chores, no matter how simple they might be, and do one thing at a time.  Cross out each chore as you accomplish it.  The visual realization that you are getting something accomplished will give you a little boost and help you get more things done.

Set Time Only to Work – Give yourself a specific amount of time where all you’re going to be doing is work; no emails, text messages, or surfing the web.  You can do all that after you have accomplished some of your tasks.  It could be any amount of time where you get no distractions and only do work.

Use A Timer – Adam, like most writers, sometimes gets “writer’s block” and in order for him to overcome this block, McGuinness recommended for Adam to write every single day.  Just write anything, it doesn’t matter what it is, just write something down everyday for 25 minutes.  McGuinness suggested to set a timer for 25 minutes and don’t stop writing until the timer went off.  At that point, he could either stop writing or reset the timer if he wanted to continue.  According to Adam, this was one of the best tips he received.

Just Do It – I know looking at a big pile of things to do gets overwhelming, but it won’t get done unless you do it.  You just have to get up and start.  Sometimes you’ll start and work for a minute before you decide to do something else, but other times you’ll work for hours and get a lot of it done.  The point is you have to get up and do it.

Take a Break – If you find yourself working for hours and getting tired, take a break and refresh.  Step away from the task at hand and stretch, drink some water or take a walk.  Just don’t turn on the TV or do anything that will distract you for a long time.  Remember you’re supposed to work for a set period of time, you can distract yourself later.

Apply these tips and get things done.

I’m a big procrastinator as well.  I usually do things the day before they’re due.  I’m usually writing stuff on Sunday night because I want to have a post on Monday morning and it sometimes stresses me out a bit.  I don’t get too stressed because I don’t really have a deadline to post – I can post whenever I want – but I have set a goal for myself and I want to meet that goal.  This Calvin and Hobbes strip describes my feelings exactly.

stop procrastinating

Since I’m going on vacation and don’t want to be in front of a computer, I wanted to write a few posts ahead of time.  I thought it would be difficult to do since I had a week to go and zero posts written.

I then decided to use some of the tips above and was able to write six posts in one week. This is one of them.

I didn’t use a timer, but I told myself to write for 30 minutes at a time and then decide what to do next.  30 minutes is not a lot of time, but I was surprised how much I could get done in only a half hour.

These tips worked for me and if you are a procrastinator as well, try them out and see if they also work for you.  You can also check out more tips here.

Or, if procrastination works for you, by all means do it.  But I will continue using these tips to avoid the last minute stress.

What do you to stop procrastinating?

[Photo Credit: LadyDayDream]


  1. I’m a terrible procrastinator but I also hate the stress. I do use the egg timer for chores I hate. I tell myself I can stop when the time is up, but most often I keep going. Getting started is the hard part. But if I do decide to stop, 20 mins or whatever is better than nothing so I don’t beat myself up over it.

  2. I’m a list maker, and that helps. I also try to “just do it”, rather than put things off. I force myself to finish things if I know that I have to.

  3. Thanks for the advice, definitely going to try these few tips out.

    I’m a major procrastinator! The problem is I actually thrive on it. My turbo only kicks in when I’m under pressure. I can only get a lot of stuff done fast when a deadline is near.

    However, the biggest reason to try and procrastinate less is the fact that other people around me can’t deal with it. Especially in joint projects at work it possibly bothers a lot of people.

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