Article: Kathy Paauw

The Small Business Library

May 10, 2000

Ten Tips To Help You Overcome Procrastination

Select one idea from the list below and make a commitment to yourself to create a new habit by making it a part of your daily routine.

  1. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Break larger projects into manageable "bites" and create a timeline for yourself to accomplish these smaller tasks.

  2. Remember that each project expands to the time allotted to it, so set a limit for yourself: "I am going to return all my phone calls in one hour." "I will file papers for 30 minutes." "I will spend 15 minutes picking up around the house." Set a timer. You will be amazed how much you can get done when you focus your time.

  3. Check your self-talk. Do you frequently say, "I gotta...," "I should...," or "I have to..."?   Replace this self-talk with "I choose to..." and recognize that you are at choice about what you do. If you don't choose to do it, don't do it!

  4. Eat a live toad first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. Tackle that "toad" -- the task you have been putting off, the one that is hanging over your head -- because it will lift an immense load and you will feel much more productive.

  5. Train yourself to trim the F.A.T. When papers come into your office or home, give yourself these three choices: File, Act, Toss. (Note that "I'll just put it here for now" is not one of the choices.)

  6. Relieve yourself of the stress caused by all of the clutter in your home and office by setting up some systems to manage the paper in your life. A good filing system and a tickler file system are essential elements. For instructions on setting up an effective tickler system, visit Trim the F.A.T..

  7. Make a weekly appointment with yourself to plan your coming week. During your planning session, schedule important activities and tasks so you have a concrete plan for following through with your intentions.

  8. When planning your time, include both urgent (time-sensitive) and non-urgent but important activities in your plan. An example of an urgent activity might be a meeting or a project with an upcoming deadline. A non-urgent activity might be exercise or relationship-building -- something important but not time-sensitive or deadline-driven.

  9. Make appointments with yourself to get administrative work done, such as paying bills or catching up with your reading. Treat this time as you would an appointment with someone else.

  10. Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to put things away and look at the calendar for the next day. Gather what you need ahead of time so you will be prepared for tomorrow.

Start a Worry Log and check it monthly. What percent of your fears actually come true?

When you are aware that fear is holding you back, follow the four-step FEAR process (available on my website ) to help get you unstuck.

Kathy Paauw, President of Paauwerfully Organized, specializes in helping busy executives, professionals, and entrepreneurs declutter their schedules, spaces and minds. She is a certified business/personal coach and professional organizer. Contact her at or visit her website and learn how you can Find ANYTHING in 5 Seconds - Guaranteed!