How to Stop Procrastinating in 10 minutes with One Simple Question

I have a confession to make about procrastinating. I left this article to the last minute to write. I intended to write it yesterday. The old familiar excuses (I’m feeling tired, I have other things to do, I am not in the mood, blah, blah, blah). All the excuses had an element of truth to them…but they were still just excuses.

The problem is NOT the excuses but the conclusions that arise from them.

All of my excuses concluded with then it is better to put it off to another time.

For example:

  • “I’m feeling tired” (excuse)….then “I will wait till another day when I am more rested” (conclusion).
  • “I’m have too much to do” (excuse) …..then “I will do the task when I have less stuff to do” (conclusion).
  • “I’m not in the mood” (excuse)…then “I will wait for my moment of inspiration” (conclusion).

It was my conclusions that needed to change!

So how did I start writing this article?

I heard my familiar excuses arise and I used them as a signal that I was about to procrastinate.

At that very moment I used a simple technique that has pulled me out of my familiar procrastination habit and kicked my butt into gear. To do this I asked myself one simple question:

“What needs to be done now in these ten minutes? 

What can I commit to for the next 10 minutes that I have been procrastinating on and then immediately start on the task?  

procrastinatingWhat can you commit to do in the next 10 minutes?

Now I am trying to keep my life as simple as I can. I withhold any judgements or negativity about the task and I don’t worry about the quality of my output.

Surely I can tolerate this commitment for only 10 minutes!

And a funny thing happened!

When I was doing what I SHOULD be doing rather than distracting myself with other stuff I felt better.

I felt better that I had given it a go and the task was not as big and scary as I had thought!

But don’t just take my word for this. 

Dr Timothy Pychyl an expert on Procrastination from the The problem IS NOT the excuses but the conclusions that arise from them. All of my excuses concluded with ‘then’ it is better to put it off to another time.

“I’m feeling tired” (excuse)….then “I will wait till another day when I am more rested” (conclusion)

“I’m have too much to do” (excuse) …..then “I will do the task when I have less stuff to do” (conclusion)

“I’m not in the mood” (excuse)…then “I will wait for my moment of inspiration” (conclusion).

It was my conclusions that needed to change!

So how did I start writing this article?

I heard my familiar excuses arise and I used them as a signal that I was about to procrastinate.

At that very moment I used a simple technique that has pulled me out of my familiar procrastination habit and kicked my butt into gear. To do this I asked myself one simple question

“What needs to be done now in these ten minutes? 

What can I commit to for the next 10 minutes that I have been procrastinating on and then immediately start on the task?

Now I am trying to keep my life as simple as I can. I withhold any judgements or negativity about the task and I don’t worry about the quality of my output. Surely I can tolerate this commitment for only 10 minutes!

A funny thing happened!

When I was doing what I SHOULD be doing rather than distracting myself with other stuff I felt better.

I felt better that I had given it a go and the task was not as big and scary as I had thought!

But don’t just take my word for this. 

Dr Timothy Pychyl an expert on Procrastination from the Carleton University carried out this exercise with his students and he found that when students made the effort to just get started on their stressful, difficult, and unpleasant task that once they got started the task was not as stressful, difficult or as unpleasant.

Once they got started the task was rarely as bad as they thought!

On top of that they felt better about themselves for having started and created momentum to keep going.

Using the 10 minute solution to Stop Procrastinating

Using the 10 minute solution to stop procrastinating

So what is on your mind now? What are you procrastinating on? Just the thought can be overwhelming, right?

Choose one thing that you can commit to for 10 minutes. 10 minutes to take some kind of action, any action?

Can you hear the familiar excuses arising….“I’m too tired”...“I’m not in the mood”...“I would rather do something else”.

Don’t discard the excuses, there is an element of truth to them! But decide today to change your conclusions to these excuses.

Use your excuses as a red flag, an alert, to get started for 10 minutes. 

Ask yourself when the red flag goes up “What needs to be done now in these ten minutes?” and make the 10 minute commitment.

Don’t hold any judgement about the task or the quality of the work. just start it!

What can you do in the next ten minutes that will move something forward? What's one small action that you can take right now?

Take that action. Your future self will thank you.

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