Stop Procrastinating with This One Simple Trick

Raise your hand along with me if you tend to procrastinate, but want to stop. (Someday...)Raise your hand along with me if you tend to procrastinate, but want to stop. (Someday…)

We all know that procrastination isn’t exactly a good thing. In fact — in addition to being counterproductive — it can be stressful.

You know you should be doing a certain task, but you do everything but that task instead, while feeling guilty along the way. Then you stress out about it. Finally, you either do it at the last minute (losing sleep over it in the process) or give up on what might have been an excellent idea.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can, of course, stop indulging in procrastination cold-turkey. But if you want to ease yourself into it, you can stop procrastinating with this one simple trick. I call it procrastinating wisely.

How to procrastinate wisely

Here’s how.

In order to procrastinate wisely, you need three specific tasks to accomplish today. These shouldn’t be just any tasks though. They need to be tasks that will move you toward your goal. (As opposed to having the cleanest desk in the west, or the most organized DVD collection or whatnot, when your actual goal is something like getting your finances under control)

These should be 3 things that you can absolutely accomplish in a single day.

Lay the tasks out (quickly!)

If you have a larger project, break that single project down into three tasks you can do by a specific time today. Don’t spend more than 5 minutes breaking it down, either.

Start with the task that seems the least objectionable, and work on it until you’re either done with it or feeling procrastinate-y about it, too. Then move on to the next thing. Alternate between the three tasks until they are all done.

But, what happens if you just don’t feel like doing that much work?

Get ruthless

If you’re still in a procrastinating frame of mind, turn off the internet connection to your computer. Then tell yourself that you don’t have to do the other items today after all, but if you’re not going to do them, you have to do Task X instead before you can do anything else.

Task X should be something you would completely hate doing, so much so that you would never actually do it. Like, I don’t know, using your fingernail to scrape calcium deposits off the bottom of your 20-year-old dishwasher, or whatever you would truly detest every second of.

Repeat until all three of your original tasks are done for the day. Then go relax and enjoy yourself.

Or eat the frog

The other option (which sounds terrible but feels surprisingly good once you give it a shot) is to do the task you least want to do first thing in your day. And I do mean first thing. This is called eating the frog, because as Brian Tracy says, “If you have to eat a live frog, it does not pay to sit and look at it for a very long time!”

So stumble out of bed and do it, without even getting ready for the day first — even if you have to get up early to get it done.

Once it’s done, you’re free to procrastinate on everything else for the day if you still feel like procrastinating. Chances are though, you’ll start to feel good about getting things done, and procrastinating won’t come into play very often.

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