Procrastination Tip #1

Do you ever procrastinate?

Stupid question, I know…  We all do at times.

Years ago, I had a thought, “I can do anything for 20 minutes!”  I might not enjoy it, but I really can do anything for 20 minutes.  I could even shovel horse poop for 20 minutes if I had to…

Back in the late 80’s, I was working with a company called Brinker International.  Every month, I’d have to sit down and write budgets for the upcoming month.  This would usually take about two to three hours.  Being the type of person who loathed sitting, (and still do!) I’d procrastinate until the very last minute.  Here’s a little process I discovered that worked every time!

Whenever I didn’t want to do something, I’d sit down and set a timer for 20 minutes.  I used to wear an Iron Man watch that had a countdown timer on it.  Now I use my IPhone.

I’d set the timer, hit the button, and then start on whatever it was that I didn’t want to do.  I’d usually find that within a minute or two, I’d totally forgotten that the timer was running.  Over the next 20 minutes, I’d get “into” whatever it was that I was doing.  20 minutes later, when the timer went off, it’d usually surprises me.

I find that at the 20 minute point, I’m so “into” whatever it is that I’m doing, I just keep on doing it.

But here’s the key—If I’m seriously not enjoying what I’m doing when the timer goes off, I stop, stand up, pat myself on the back, and say, “Great job!  You got 20 minutes done!!!”  I congratulate myself for doing the 20 minutes, instead of giving myself a hard time.

Then tomorrow, I do another 20 minutes…  Before I know it, the project is completed.

A few practical applications:

Exercise.  Anyone can exercise for 20 minutes.  I see people all the time who don’t exercise because they think they have to go to the gym for an hour or two.  No you don’t.  Set the expectation at 20 minutes.  Then if you’re enjoying it—continue.  If not, stop for the day!

Balancing the checkbook.  This is one of my least favorite things to do.  Set the timer.  It’s done before the timer goes off!  And you’ve completed your task!

I use it for writing my blog.  I have a recurring task on my calendar that says “Write 20 minutes.”  It pops up everyday.  So I sit down, set the timer, then start writing.  99% of the time, when the timer goes off, I just keep writing—because I’m “into” the process.  Momentum is working for me.  Many times, it’s an hour or two later, before I stop.  But, if I’m really not enjoying it, or just don’t have the time that day, I congratulate myself because I did my 20 minutes!

So what do you procrastinate on?  Specifically?

Set a timer!  It’s really is a great psychological tool.

You can do anything for 20 minutes!

(PS, I’ve got another great procrastination tip that I want to teach you!  But I’m going to put that off for now—just don’t feel like doing it!  …Hehehe!!!)

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