One Simple Tip to Break the Procrastination Habit

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One simple tip to break the procrastination habit |

As I mentioned in my last post about the things I understand better about myself now that I know my energy type, I am a major procrastinator.

Sometimes I procrastinate because I feel like I don’t have enough information to do whatever task it is that I need to do, and sometimes I procrastinate because I feel like I don’t have enough time or energy to accomplish a task or that I should wait until a time when I’ll be able to do a better job at it. And sometimes I procrastinate simply because I don’t feel like doing a task and I’d rather be scrolling through my Pinterest feed instead πŸ™‚

Since there are still plenty of tasks that I need to do whether or not I really want to or feel ready to do them, I needed to find a way to help myself to accomplish the things I needed to. And since procrastinating can often make me feel more stressed since I know I have all of these uncompleted tasks looming on my to-do list, I wanted to find a way to help to reduce that source of stress as much as possible. Β 

My number one tip for helping to break the procrastination habit is a very simple one. It’s not an instant cure, and I definitely still find myself procrastinating at times, but this is the one thing that’s really been helping me get more things done and to cross more tasks off of my to-do list.

The Ten Minute Rule

My simple tip is the Ten Minute Rule.

The Ten Minute Rule means that I have to set my timer and spend a full ten minutes on whatever task I’ve been procrastinating doing. And that’s it.

I don’t have to actually finish the task, and I don’t even have to accomplish a specific part of the task. I just have to work on some aspect of it for ten minutes.

The Ten Minute Rule has been helping me in a couple of different ways:

1. It reduces the feeling of overwhelm

When I have a task on my to-do list that I’m not looking forward to, especially if it’s a difficult or time-consuming task, it can make me feel overwhelmed. With the Ten-Minute Rule, though, I know that I only have to spend ten minutes working on the task, and since ten minutes is such a short amount of time, it seems a lot more manageable.

2. It helps with my perfectionist tendencies

In addition to being a procrastinator, I’m also a perfectionist. These two tendencies really go together because a lot of times I procrastinate because I feel like I won’t be able to do a good enough job at the task, so I’ll put it off until a time when I think I’ll be able to do it better.

By only requiring myself to work on something for ten minutes, though, I know that I don’t have to actually finish the whole task, which means that I don’t have to get everything done perfectly today. I just have to work for ten minutes, and then I can focus on improving the details another time.

(Note: Perfectionism is often a big underlying issue for people who struggle with procrastination. One of my favorite books that goes deeper into this subject is Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. If you think you might have some perfectionist tendencies, I can’t recommend this book enough.)

3. It helps me to accomplish something at least

I always feel better when I can check something off of my to-do list. Sometimes I even write down tasks I’ve already completed just so I can have the satisfaction of checking them off.

Using the Ten-Minute Rule allows me to at least get something done of the task I need to do, even if it’s only a small part of it. Something is better than nothing, and it makes me feel less stressed if I know that I’ve at least started the task.Β And nine times out of ten, once I actually start working on something for ten minutes, I usually get involved with what I’m doing and I get motivated to work on it for longer, or sometimes even to finish the entire task.

The Ten-Minute Rule doesn’t even have to be ten minutes either. You could make it a Twenty or Thirty-Minute Rule if you feel like ten minutes is too short of a time, or you could even make it just a Five-Minute Rule if you want. The idea is just to spend a little time getting at least some of the task done and hopefully reducing some stress in the process πŸ™‚

Want to Learn More About How to Stop Procrastinating?

If you want to learn more about how to break your procrastination habit, my new book, “Your Personal Procrastination Plan” can help you to discover the root cause of why you procrastinate in the first place so you can break the habit for good!




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One simple tip to break the procrastination habit |


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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

30 thoughts on “One Simple Tip to Break the Procrastination Habit”

  1. I could have written this about myself, youu are so right on about everything you said. I’m going to try your method. How has it been working for you so far?
    Thanks, Dawn

    • It’s been working pretty well! πŸ™‚ (As long as I don’t procrastinate on the ten minute rule too, that is . . .) I’ve found myself being quite a bit more productive than I used to be, and I feel like I have less unfinished tasks hanging over my head.

  2. I have expanded on this habit. I use my timer a lot now. 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off. I do a chore for 20 minutes, then I can do whatever I want for 20 minutes. Then back to the chore. I am easily distracted so if I need to have a productive day, this is a very helpful routine.

  3. I save up all the articles I find from your blog on Pinterest and read them as I get a moment to. It’s planned procastination…. lol πŸ˜‰ This was very helpful to me. I homeschool my five children, and while most of my day is planned and busy, I absolutely procrastinate. I love a plan but too much structure has less flow and makes me feel too ridgid and confined. And sometimes a too do list on top of everything else has me running for the hills (or my bathroom as a place of closer solitude…haha), so this ten minute thing is very attractive to me. It is not too long to where I would get weary of it, but not too short to whre nothing would be accomplished. I do find that as I get started on something, that perfectionist bit in me takes over and I wonder why I ever procrastinated to begin with!! lol Wonderful article as usual Lori!!

    • Thank you, Michelle! Reading your comment just made my day! πŸ™‚ I’m so glad it was a helpful post. Procrastination is so hard to overcome, but like you said, once you get started you always wonder why you did it so much in the first place!

  4. thanks soooo much! i never thought about this in that way! you’re absolutly right and it was like an answer from heaven for me. so easy – so good! πŸ™‚ the right post at the right time!

  5. thank you very much for sharing this idea. I will put it in practice, for sure! I experience the same as you: either I do not know what I have to do; or I think it would not be perfect; or I do not feel like doing it – but normally, what is procrastinated is something we must do (otherwise we could simple forget it, right?). So, better face it, and the soonest! In Spanish we say “out the tooth, out the pain”.

  6. Thanks for the post Lori! I’m exactly the same when it comes to procrastination and perfectionism. Plus when I see the to-do list growing I tend to beat myself up about it which just leads to more overwhelm. I think this an awesome idea and great trick! I will be definitely start trying this out immediately. I completely agree — the point is to get you started and motivated to get things started and get into the groove. Thanks again and I’ll will be sharing this πŸ™‚

    • That’s to true about beat myself up about a growing to-do list! And, of course, that only adds to the procrastination even more, lol. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  7. We don’t really need to be perfect. The work shouldn’t be crappy, but when we are so afraid of being judged that we never put anything out there, that’s not good. We will always have some complainers. Just do it!!!

  8. This post was SO helpful!! thank you! I actually set a timer myself to chop tasks down into small increments, which I had learned years ago from the pomodoro technique –
    But I never thought about attacking tasks that I was procrastinating on head on first and prioritize them. I tried this today and got so much done already! thank you! Just signed up for your email list.
    Super cool πŸ™‚

    • Awesome! I’m so glad it’s helping you! I’ll definitely have to check out the pomodoro technique. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

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  10. Thank you; I’m really going to try that ten minute rule. I’m an artist and a silver smith who also makes my own cabochons from pieces i slice off slabs of semi-precious rock. I KNOW I have chores and things that really need doing around my house but I start on something and lose track of time or just tell myself, I’ll do this (household chore) later. It never gets done. My husband’s been dead for years & I have the house to myself. When it’s late at night & nothing has been done in the house I feel crummy & say I’ll do it in the morning & then I get side tracked again. The only time I clean like mad is before my kids come to dinner (twice a month) I really hope this works with the timer.

    • Yes, it’s very easy to lose track of time doing the things we enjoy, isn’t it? And then the things that actually need to be done just don’t end up happening. It always feels so much better to accomplish something, but it’s the getting started part that seems to be the hardest. I hope this works well for you!

  11. Really nice tip and so timely for me. Will try for sure. Also can be applied to chores for kids. I just realized my 9 year old sets a timer when I assign him a task…Makes it easier to get going on the task when you know you only need to work on it for 10 minutes πŸ™‚

  12. I still get nothing accomplished which makes me feel guilty and sad. Setting a timer only makes me feel like a failure. I was hoping for something inspirational.

    • I’m sorry the timer method didn’t work for you and that you’re still not getting the things accomplished that you want to. Setting a timer is a method that works well for me, but everyone is different and what works for me might not work for everyone. Maybe instead of using a timer, you can do some exploring into the root causes for why it is that you procrastinate and why you feel guilty and like a failure when you don’t accomplish what you wanted to. Getting curious about what emotions you’re feeling before and after you find yourself procrastinating might give you some clues to help you figure out why you’ve developed that pattern (and also how to help yourself to reverse that pattern.) I hope you can find a method that will work well for you!

  13. I never linked procrastination and perfection together yet they both describe me to a tee ! None of my friends understand this, but they don’t have either of these attributes. I will give this a try and maybe get the book also.

    • Yes, it’s so interesting to see the link between the two! I can’t imagine not being either a procrastinator or a perfectionist because I’ve been both for about as long as I can remember. I hope this method helps you and that you enjoy the book if you decide to read it. It’s a great resource for helping with not just perfectionism but also all of the aspects of what the author calls “wholehearted living.”

  14. Yes…this sounds like me…and my boyfriend. I’m going to try this tip. I’m hoping that he’ll see it working for me and try it himself. I’ll be positive and buy 2 timers. So glad I saw this pin. Thank you. I really do believe it will help me.


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