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As much as I might like to pretend that I always get things done right away and never put them off for later, I have to admit that I am often 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!
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 and break the procrastination habit.
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. It seems almost too easy to be true, but it really has helped me many times with getting more things done.
With this strategy, 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.
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. 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.
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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The information in this post is not to be taken as medical advice and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.