Procrastination: How to Break the Spell and Get Things Done


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Ananga SivyerThis guest post was written by Ananga Sivyer.

Procrastination is a horrible waste of time and energy. It’s amazing how we can spend so much time thinking about doing something and get no nearer to actually doing it at all.

That’s because thinking and doing each possess a completely different energy. Thinking is passive, inert and internal and doing is active and external. The only way to do something is… to do it!

Ready, Set, Go…

The most powerful way to combat procrastination is to make a start. An easy and incredibly effective way to do this is to grab a kitchen timer and set it for just 5 minutes, and vow to see what you can get done in that time.

This works for any dreaded task like sorting laundry, writing articles, studying, even cleaning the bathroom. Just click up 5 minutes and go.

There are two major benefits to doing this:

1. You’ll discover how much you can achieve in 5 minutes. Sometimes it’s enough to finish a task you’ve been putting off for hours!

2. Once you’ve started - it’s hard to stop. You’re off, you have projected yourself from inertia into action. You’re making progress and you’re feeling good. From this place of action and accomplishment it is so much easier to go on to tackle other things.

You know the saying “if you want something doing, ask a busy person”? The reason that is so is because a busy person is active. They have momentum and drive.

Little Nibbles

For big projects the key is to think small. Every project, no matter how huge, is a journey; a series of steps to completion.

To make serious headway with a project, break it down into single steps and put them in a list format. Then pick one step at a time, do it, and tick it off. One step after the other, that’s all.

While looking at the big picture can be beneficial in some areas, it can be a paralysing recipe for pure procrastination when it comes to completing projects.Instead, get right to the details, think small and take small steps, and don’t look up until you have a few of them done. Then instead of enormity and a sense of feeling overwhelmed you will see progress and feel that you are on the path to completion.

Basking in the Glow of Accomplishment

Once you get going with a five minute burst you’ll have momentum and drive too and you can settle back at the end of the day in a contented glow of accomplishment.

To acknowledge your achievements is an important part of keeping the wheels of action rolling. Looking back over what you got done, reviewing your progress and thinking over what to do next are important parts of keeping moving.

Once you have momentum, a habit of 5 minute bursts of action, it’s easy to keep going and adding more and more ticked off tasks to your day.

You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve got things done? Bask in it. It’ll help get you through the next task, and the next… until you find yourself glowing like the powerhouse of productivity you truly are!

Ananga Sivyer is a writer with a passion for personal development. She writes for Lifescape magazine and various websites on matters of moving forwards and getting more from life than paying your bills.

To read more articles like this visit her Living by Design blog at

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    On June 22nd, 2007 at 8:15 am, Char said:

    I completely agree that getting started is half the battle - and this comes from the Queen of Procrastination herself!

    The timer method works better than anything else. I usually set mine for 15 minute increments. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in short bursts.

    On June 22nd, 2007 at 9:47 am, Jenny said:

    I’m the worst procrastinator ever. If I have to clean a big mess I’ll just look at it like “this is too much” and i’ll keep putting it off and putting it off. Maybe I’ll take some of these ideas.

    On June 22nd, 2007 at 11:34 am, JoLynn Braley said:

    Ananga, good point, this is very true. I’ve used it before, setting my timer for 15 minutes (learned this from FlyLady), and it helps tremendously.

    I recommend checking out for anyone interested in more tips on procrastination and/or organizing. She’s a big one for the 15 minute timer tool, I’ve learned many useful techniques from her. :)

    On June 22nd, 2007 at 1:07 pm, Sue Olson said:

    I also use the timer in cases where I have convinced myself that there are things I need to do before the BIG one - I acknowledge that I am procrastinating SO I say ‘Fine, Self, do these other things but you have only 15 minutes. THEN you must get to your true task at hand.’ This usually helps free up my brain waves to totally concentrate on one thing.

    On June 22nd, 2007 at 2:00 pm, derek said:

    My wife doesn’t let me anywhere near the kitchen after I nearly blew up our house but I agree that this strategy can really work wonders.

    I’m pretty bad at procrastinating myself but always seem to know when I have pushed it far enough and it is time to get to work.

    Nice post Ananga!

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