There’s more than one way to cure procrastination. In our reader poll, association pros shared how they get themselves going when they’ve been dragging their feet for too long.
Perhaps it’s because it’s such a common problem. Or maybe people were using our form to procrastinate. Either way, our latest reader survey asking about tactics to beat procrastination was one of our most popular ever, drawing dozens of responses from readers who all had a few tricks up their sleeves—some simple, some more elaborate.
Here are just a few of their tips. More are forthcoming, but in the spirit of the topic, we’re procrastinating on those. Read on!
Kim Paugh, CAE
Executive Director, Raybourn Group International
I take a step back and determine the why. Is it essential? Could I delegate instead? Does it really need to be done? If yes, I define the smallest first step I can think of and just do that. Once the first step is completed, I have some momentum to propel me through.
Volunteer Program Manager, Maryland Food Bank
I break the project into smaller tasks. Then, I set a specific amount of time for each task. For example, “I will work on task #1 for 30 minutes, then move on to task #2 for 60 minutes, etc.” I also add breaks with specific activities (e.g., meditate for 10 minutes, take a walk around the building for 15 minutes, eat a snack for 10 minutes). I use the timer on my phone to keep me honest. I don’t always stick to the plan, but it always gets me started.
Affiliate and Sponsorship Manager, Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles
Involve other people! It’s easy to put off things that only affect my workflow. But if I’ve promised something to someone else, the pressure is on. I won’t blow off my teammates, so for tasks and projects that are less than desirable, I connect them to another team member: “I’ll have the report for you by Friday so you can work on the project next week.” This establishes a hard deadline and is usually just the push I need to get it done.
Senior Staff Editor, Association of American Medical Colleges
Deadlines help. Isolate myself. Rewards (you get to plan this fun thing once you’ve finished the task). Ultimatums (you may not go home until you’ve finished the task). I try to remember to swallow the frog. If I do the most unpleasant thing first (i.e., swallow the frog), the rest of the day is pleasant and I feel accomplished.
Account Strategist, MDG
I find the best way to fight procrastination and get the momentum building on a project is to commit to spending “just five minutes on it,” and then dive in. Generally, it is the starting that holds me up, and once you’re IN the project, the momentum builds. If after five minutes the energy isn’t there, I move on to something else and circle back. Most of the time, though, the five minutes turns into sticking with the project until it is finished or until a particular task on it is completed.