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Confessions: I can’t stop procrastinating

 I find it hard to get motivated enough to start a task as I get caught up in pointless things (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

I do not like admitting this, but I am always putting things off.

I postpone stuff that really matter, like writing important reports, taking exercise, and spending time with my family. There is also a book I keep promising myself I will write, and needless to say, I have not written a single word!

I find it hard to get motivated enough to start a task, especially if it is something that should be done right. I get caught up in pointless things, and my Twitter feed, until the day is over.

Is there a cure to this?

Putting Things Off

——

Hi Putting Things Off!

Just about everyone struggles to start a challenging task, or neglects stuff that is easy to put off. Breaking tasks into 20-minute chunks will help. For instance, if you are putting off writing a report, start by working on just one easy section, and before you know it, the momentum of the task will carry you forward.

By tackling important jobs in short sessions over several days, your subconscious also works on them in the background. This means that each time you return to your work, you can see the way forward more clearly.

This works because you can do something for 20 minutes, no matter how boring or scary. It is a great way to motivate yourself, and can completely change your life.

If you perform an enjoyable exercise for 20 minutes every day, there will be no need to worry about your health.

Spend 20 minutes a day tidying up and you will not be lost in the clutter. Listen to your family for 20 minutes a day, and they will all be much happier.

Read a good book for 20 minutes a day and you will gradually look forward to it.

Spend the same time period setting goals and organising priorities, and you will always know what needs to be done next.

Or pick something you would really like to achieve and commit yourself to doing it.

Then work on your project for just 20 minutes every day. Start with that book you have been wanting to write. Believe me, whole books have been written in 20-minute chunks.

Turn off all the distractions while you are working on your project: radio, TV, email and messaging. Switch your phone to silent. Tell your family not to disturb you.

And after exactly 20 minutes, just stop, and give yourself a treat. Do not be tempted to go on working. That urge to do more means you will be motivated to start again tomorrow.

Give yourself a treat; something as small as a cup of tea is all it takes to keep your brain eager for the next session.

Once you learn the 20-minute rule you will be more pro-active, confident and less stressed, and a lot more creative and productive.

All the best,

Chris

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