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Getting Stuff Done Gold #2: Best Procrastination Tip Ever!

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Ah, procrastination. We all do it, don’t we? 

What we’re doing bores us, so we switch to something more interesting.

What we’re doing is difficult, so we switch to something easy.

We can’t decide what to do, so we scroll our Facebook feed waiting for inspiration to strike.

Before we know it, we’ve wasted a large portion of our day not really getting anywhere. As a result, we find ourselves working later into the evening, struggling to meet deadlines and feeling annoyed and frustrated with our lack of focus and progress.

But what on earth do we do about it?

When it comes to procrastination I really do believe that paying attention is the answer, so for this month’s Getting Stuff Done Gold, I’d like to introduce you to Leo Babauta.

If you’re at all interested in slow living or mindfulness, you may already be familiar with Leo’s wonderful website Zen Habits. He has been writing about “finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives” for years, and often returns to the subject of procrastination.

Thanks to Leo’s generosity in releasing the copyright on his work, I can share some of his wonderful advice with you right here. 

The following article was first published on Zen Habits in 2011. I hope you find it useful.


Best Procrastination Tip Ever

Your first thought as you look at this article will be, “I’ll read this later.”

But don’t. Let the urge to switch to a new task pass. Read this now.

It’ll take you two minutes. It’ll save you countless hours.

I’ve written the book on ending procrastination, but I’ve since come up with a very simple technique for beating everyone’s favorite nemesis. It is incredibly easy, but as with anything, it takes a little practice.

Try it now:

Identify the most important thing you have to do today.

Decide to do just the first little part of it — just the first minute, or even 30 seconds of it. Getting started is the only thing in the world that matters.

Clear away distractions. Turn everything off. Close all programs. There should just be you, and your task.

Sit there, and focus on getting started. Not doing the whole task, just starting.

Pay attention to your mind, as it starts to have urges to switch to another task. You will have urges to check email or Facebook or Twitter or your favorite website. You will want to play a game or make a call or do another task. Notice these urges.

But don’t move. Notice the urges, but sit still, and let them pass. Urges build up in intensity, then pass, like a wave. Let each one pass.

Notice also your mind trying to justify not doing the task. Also let these self-rationalizing thoughts pass.

Now just take one small action to get started. As tiny a step as possible.

Get started, and the rest will flow.


What do you think of Leo's advice? Will you be giving it a go? I mean it's just sitting still, right? How hard can it be....! Please share in the comments below – I always love to hear your thoughts. And of course, I’d love you to share this with the expert procrastinators in your life! 

Louise MillerComment