Nine hundred seconds to tackle procrastination

Last time,  I talked about how I counteract my avoidance tactics: those obstacles I leave in place to stop me having to take action, even when I know I should. Using my four questions (What’s actually going on? What else? What help do I need? What next?) allows me to formulate a plan of action and move those boulders out of my path.

Hmm, that’s all very well but I still need to get started. This can be where inertia creeps in. I can always find something else to do: answer an email, make a cup of coffee, open my post, have a quick chat with a colleague. I need a bit of a kickstart sometimes.

That’s where my kitchen timer comes in handy. However much I’m not looking forward to a task, I reckon I can handle fifteen minutes of most things. Maybe you’re thinking that fifteen minutes isn’t long enough to achieve anything really useful: I did too until I tried it. Knowing that I can stop filing my emails or cleaning the bathroom after quarter of an hour somehow makes it more bearable and allows me to work more efficiently. Fifteen minutes later, I have a feeling of relief that it’s done and very shiny taps!

There are some tasks for which fifteen minutes won’t be enough but it will definitely be sufficient to set me going. In just quarter of an hour, I can write the introduction to a report; I can design the matrix I’m going to use to assess the team’s training requirements; I can review my coaching materials and see what needs refreshing or replenishing. When that beeper goes, if I’m in the swing of things, I just start it again and carry on for another fifteen minutes. I allow myself to re-start it a maximum of three times before I take a break, have a walk around, maybe grab a drink or go outside for some fresh air.

It’s so simple but – for me – so effective.

Today’s pebble for you to ponder: how do you kickstart yourself into action?

I’d love to hear how you tackle procrastination.


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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8 Responses to Nine hundred seconds to tackle procrastination

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  6. juliamanchester says:

    This has been my go-to method for some time and I try to teach it to my students too – but I don’t think many try it, as it seems (exactly as you say) too short a time to be worth bothering with. But in 15 minutes a day, I’ve read my way through some various dense and off putting reference books and done all sorts of mountainous tasks bit by bit. It works like magic, doesn’t it?

    • I know, it’s such a powerful yet simple technique. Great to hear you’re spreading the word – even if only one student picks it up, that’s one student who’s going to get more done!
      Thanks for commenting.

  7. Pingback: When you’ve made the big changes, what’s next? | Turning over pebbles

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