Seven Steps To Pulverise Procrastination

I hate procrastination. It is one of the most infuriating parts of my personal make-up and is responsible for so many missed opportunities, wasted hours and failed projects. If procrastination was a person, I'd probably be doing a life sentence for its murder by now.

Fortunately, I've found some less violent ways to eradicate this dream destroyer from my life. Here are my seven, top procrastination-beating tips, that will work for you, whether you are climbing a mountain or just tidying up your basement.

Tip #1. Recognize it. You have to know your enemy and procrastination is a master of disguise, so it can sometimes be hard to spot. But when you hear yourself saying things like. "Before I do (my target) I just have to...", or "I can't start (my target) till I have...".

This is what I call the 'pencil-sharpening mode' - spending all your time in preparation and never actually doing. Learn to spot these excuses.

Tip #2. Stop it in its tracks. Once you've flushed your procrastination into the open, you must take positive action to prevent it from taking over. Listen to your excuses and do two things. Firstly, tell yourself to stop being scared of the task you have set yourself and hiding behind these pathetic walls and secondly, incorporate the excuse into the solution, by including it in the next stage.

Tip #3. Define the task. Whatever you want to do, it is no use being nebulous and vague about it. You must define and measure your goal. Write it down, map it out, make it real and tangible and most importantly, take the excuse from stage 2 and include it as part of your road map.

For example, if you keep telling yourself that you can't tidy the basement till you have gone to the store and bought a set of plastic crates, make "go to the store" the very first step on your goal path.

Tip #4. Chunk it down. As someone once said, you can't eat an elephant in one bite, but you can eat it, one bite at a time. So step 4 is to define those bites. In our example, Bite 1 is "go to the store". Bite 2 is "buy the crates". Bite 3 might be "clear the contents of the small area directly under the stairs, sorting it into the appropriate crates and throwing out what I no longer want".

Note down all the little bites on your goal map, but take care not to fall back into 'pencil sharpening mode' again and spend all night on your 'Bite chart".

Tip #5. Take the first bite. This is the toughest one of the lot. Get in the car, get down to the store and buy those crates. It's called taking action and is the stage where most people fall right down in their carefully mapped-out tracks.

Tell yourself that you're only going to do this one thing, focus entirely on that and get it done.

Tip #6. Review and reward. Once you've done it, take a tiny break and review progress. When you get back from the store with your new crates, go back to your goal map, cross off Bite 1 and give yourself a little pat on the back.

You have taken action and you deserve recognition. Don't get carried away, though. You're not a Nobel prize winner yet.

Tip #7. Eat the rest. After your brief review and reward break, transfer your focus to Bite 2 and take some more action. Do it; review and reward again; then take Bite 3 and so on. Don't worry, you won't be constantly stopping and starting.

I guarantee that you'll feel so good about yourself after two or three bites that you won't want to stop and you'll be so thrilled with progress that the whole job will be finished before you know it.

Try this seven step technique next time you are stuck in reverse and you'll soon see that procrastination is a pathetically weak enemy, that you can beat with your eyes closed.

  • About

    headshot: David Beroff in St. ThomasDavid Beroff started writing software at the age of 11, and was teaching Computer Science at Rutgers University by the time he was 18. After designing software for two decades, he started his own Internet marketing firm in '95; one of his company's earliest successes was, a free feedback-form service that was later sold to Wondermill.

    Beroff had bought and sold four million voluntary, opt-in email leads generated with properties like LeadFactory and SuperTAF before the business failed in '07. He is the author of the book, Turn Funny Email into CASH!, and is currently developing a new social media site,

    He has two grown children, and now lives outside of Scranton with his girlfriend and five cats.

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